If abortion were to be made illegal, what should the punishment be? A lot of folks stumble when asked that question:
In our society if you break the law there are consequences, right? So if you think abortion is murder why does the idea of sending a woman who gets one to jail make you uncomfortable? I think it’s because “life” is not what actually lies at the root of the abortion debate. It’s really about restricting, controlling, and policing women’s bodies.
When I first found out that I was pregnant, I wondered if my opinion on abortion would change. It has. I have become even more pro-choice. At eight months, I have a pretty good understanding of the physical, emotional, and financial realities of pregnancy. And I believe now more than ever that women should have the right and power to choose what is best for them, and not be punished.
We—along with the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs—submitted this letter to the editor of The Daily News following the arrest of a domestic violence and sexual assault survivor. We appreciate and applaud the advocacy work Emergency Support Shelter is doing in their community to support victims, their choices, and their rights.
Reading about a rape victim arrested on a material witness warrant was alarming. As your coverage noted, arresting the victim “had the added irony of using a warrant to hold the woman against her will so she can help convict someone else of holding her against her will.” Further, an October 10 headline, “Family jailed for refusing to testify against dad” indicates this isn’t an isolated case or practice.
We oppose this practice. It has devastating impacts for victims; shifts focus away from perpetrators, and can lessen community safety. Arresting victims deters others who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault from reporting by promoting fear of being arrested if they can’t be available to the prosecutor; whether for lack of resources or fear of offender retaliation. Additionally it further penalizes victims who are homeless or cannot afford a phone or transportation. Punishing victims and creating barriers to reporting violence makes our communities less safe. Holding offenders accountable and responsible for violence is what we need.
Jail is not what justice for victims looks like.