A Question I Couldn't Understand

I watched some of the congressional hearings shown on CSPAN in the aftermath of the videos question the fetal tissue acquisition practices of Planned Parenthood. What I saw went the way as all of the other hearings I've seen; it's just talk with no real information gathering. Their minds are always made up beforehand.

One question happened to stand out to me. I just couldn't understand it, and months later, it still sticks in my mind. It was from Rep. Hank Johnson. I remember him because he had a hurried way of speaking. He asked each of the three witnesses, "do you support the death penalty?" To the one woman who said she did not, he responded "Well, I give you a A for consistency."

But why?

What do these two things, abortion and capital punishment, have to do with each other? Did the congressman mean to suggest that unborn babies are somehow similar to murderers? It sounds facetious of me, I know, but I am in truth utterly baffled by the exchange. Why would he ask such an irrelevant question? I can't get it.

And I admit, I hate that.

The only explanation I could come up with is a scary one. It may be that Rep. Johnson meant to suggest that abortion is defensible in the same way that the death penalty is. That is, one could say it should, indeed, be unlawful to cause the death of another human being with at least two exceptions:

  1. as a state-administered punishment for violent crime
  2. in the event of an unwanted pregnancy -- at the discretion of the mother

Still, there would be no reason to call this consistency (or inconsistency). In the end, I think the representative latched on to some argument a proponent of choice made -- but only stated the conclusion part. Perhaps Rep. Johnson understood his own point; perhaps he did not think too seriously about it.

I suppose I should tell you I strongly suspect the latter.