At least for now, getting away with murder just depends on where you live.
Scott Peterson was arrested by Modesto, Calif., police on charges that he murdered his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Connor. Under California law, the murders of Laci and Conner can both be prosecuted.
Clearly this presents an issue for pro-abortionists who claim there is only one victim – citing the definition of “murder” as the unlawful killing of another “person.” They claim under the 14th Amendment of the United Sates Constitution, only a “person” has the right to life.
In support of this position the Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that these rights do not apply to the unborn. The same decision and its progeny created dehumanizing legal terms to characterize the various stages of development and reflect the decreased value of the unborn child in our courtrooms and culture.
For example, from conception to eight weeks, the unborn child is technically called an embryo. From nine weeks until birth (at forty weeks) the unborn child is technically called a fetus. Once born, the child is technically called a baby, qualifying for the rights and privileges of a 14th Amendment person.
Skillful handling of these terms in the media, our legislative houses and courts has led to the effective argument that a crime, like the killing of Laci and Conner Peterson, has only one victim. As evidence, California is one of only 29 states that allow separate homicide charges for the unlawful killing of an unborn child, at least in some circumstances.
That means for the families of many other murder victims across the country, state law recognizes only one victim. That also means if a pregnant woman survives an attack but loses her baby, the position of many states is that nobody really died.
The question is “Does anyone believe this anymore?”
Advancing medical technology now provides well-documented, step-by-step development of the child from conception. Genetic technology can immediately identify the child as either a boy or girl. It also reveals the child is genetically distinct from either parent with the ability to self-direct its own growth and development. Amazing pictures provided by 4D ultrasound provide a window to the womb revealing the unborn child even moves like a newborn. They can also taste, hear and respond to pain.
Despite these advances in science and our understanding, extreme contradictions in state criminal and federal constitutional law persist. They persist even though most Americans understand that when a pregnant woman and her unborn child are murdered a double homicide has been committed.
As a first step response to this inconsistency, The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as “Laci and Connor’s Law,” passed the House of Representatives on Feb. 26 by a vote of 254-163. The U.S. Senate is expected to take up and vote on the bill any day.
This is a bill that allows federal and military prosecutors to bring charges on behalf of a “child in utero” when he or she is a victim of a violent federal or military crime. The bill defines “child in utero” as “a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” Additionally, the bill explicitly exempts abortion or any act of a woman affecting her own unborn child.
The narrowly and technically constrained definitions are consistent with existing legal terms for the unborn. They are also necessary if there is any hope this bill will pass into law. It simply cannot conflict with the unrestricted right of abortion. Strategically, the question in this proposed legislation is not whether or not the legal definition of a “person” applies to the unborn child in the case of murder.
Instead, the wording reflects the understanding that while a mother’s interest in terminating a pregnancy may outweigh a state’s interest in maintaining the life of the unborn child, a third party’s interest does not overcome both the state’s and the mother’s interest in continuing the pregnancy.
Despite these Herculean efforts to safeguard the woman’s right to privacy, advocacy groups like NARAL, NOW and the ACLU still oppose the bill because it elevates the legal status of the unborn child by granting these rights against violent acts of third parties. They claim the bills true intent is to undermine Roe v. Wade.
Even if they’re right, logic dictates: Murder shouldn’t depend on who you are anymore than where you live.