Friday, February 09, 2007
Texas inched closer to criminalizing abortion Wednesday when a court handed a man the death sentence for killing his girlfriend's fetus.
Jurors sentenced Adrian Estrada to die in what's believed to be the first death penalty handed down under Texas' 2003 fetal protection law.In January, a 2004 life sentence under the same law was upheld by a Texas court of appeals:
Others have been tried and convicted under the 2003 Prenatal Protection Act, which criminalizes injury or death to an embryo or fetus as a result of violence. But Estrada's death sentence may be the first in Texas for such a crime.
Last month, a Texas Court of Appeals upheld the conviction and life sentence of a man for killing his two unborn children. The gestational age of the fetuses in question was approximately four months, and the defendant - Gerardo Flores - was found guilty of killing them by stepping on his pregnant girlfriend's abdomen several times during the week prior to her resulting miscarriage.This is especially bad news because, as I have pointed out, this "Fetal Protection Law" and another law pertaining to parental consent for juvenile abortions technically already make some abortions in Texas punishable by death -- a situation the law's Republican sponsor, Ray Allen, has said "may need clearing up". To my knowledge, this has not been done.
The prosecution proceeded [link added] on the basis of a Texas statute under which the class of potential capital murder victims includes unborn human beings from the moment of conception. The case thus raises the important question of how the law ought to treat assaults on pregnant women that deliberately bring about the loss of their pregnancies. [bold added]
And even so, with this law on the books -- and being used to put men to death because a fetus has been incorrectly defined as an "individual" -- we are closer to declaring abortion illegal in the name of "individual rights".
PS: A commenter brings up some good points that I will add here due to problems that users of Microsoft Internet Explorer (which has a CSS rendering bug) may have if they attempt to read the comments.
Nice, you assume the headline is accurate and leave out the part about Estrada being sentenced to death for the murder of a 17 year old girl and her fetus. As for the other commentators, what part of a woman's right to choose don't you understand? If the mother decides to have an abortion, then it is legal. If the woman chooses life but someone murders the fetus, any penalty, up to including death, is reasonable. I am pro choice but this discussion completely ignores obviously relevant facts and fails to make any necessary distinctions.
If I deserve any blame, it is for failing to quote the following passage from the San Antonio paper:
That makes getting a death sentence "more of a challenge," she said. Plus, she said, there was some uncertainty in how jurors would react to the designation of the unborn baby as a victim. By that definition, Estrada took two lives, making it a capital crime. [my bold]Why stabbing someone thirteen times is somehow not a capital crime is beyond me, but the way the law is written, at least according to this story, it was only because he had killed the fetus in addition to his girlfriend that he got death.
So yes, this man was put to death for a fetus, though he deserved it for the one actual murder he did commit.
As for your question about my ability to understand the right of a woman to choose whether to reproduce, you are putting words into my mouth. Certainly, this man was not entitled to commit battery or otherwise harm this woman in order to induce a miscarriage against her will.
Having said all of that, the fact remains that if a fetus is a human being, abortion is murder. If not, not.
I do not think a fetus prior to the third trimester is a human life any more than an appendix is. Nevertheless, if a law gets passed that incorrectly defines a fetus (or an appendix for that matter) as human, an act that is perfectly moral (i.e., an abortion the woman chooses to have performed) becomes illegal.
I hope that clears things up.
Thank you for helping me clarify my point.
Gus Van Horn
Today: Added PS.