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03/25/2015

Fetal homicide

A recent AP news article posted on ABC News online about the bizarre case of a woman in Colorado who said she was pregnant then lured a pregnant woman into her house and attacked her with a knife and cut her baby from her womb, and then told her husband that she had miscarried and the dying baby was her own discusses the related issue of fetal homicide laws.

Although 38 states currently have laws stating that the violent killing of an unborn child is homicide, Colorado does not. Since the mother who was attacked survived and only the baby died this case would not be considered a homicide unless something had been done to kill the baby after being born. According to the article, the Colorado legislature did not pass a bill to classify the violent killing of an unborn child as homicide in 2013 and a ballot measure to establish a fetal homicide law failed last fall. Those who opposed having a fetal homicide law were concerned that a fetal homicide law would conflict with a woman’s right to have an abortion.

I think they have a good point but misguided priorities. It seems obvious that violently killing an unborn child is murder in the same way that killing any other child is murder. However, for that killing to be murder it means that the one who is killed is a person. If an unborn fetus is a person then there is a problem with saying that it is not wrong to kill that person by an abortion. So to be consistent those who say that it is not wrong to do abortion need to say that violently killing an unborn child is not murder.
However, our first priority ought to be protecting those who are helpless, not maximizing personal liberty. The violent killing of a helpless unborn child should be seen to be murder even if that means that it limits the personal liberty of one who chooses to have an abortion.

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