Thursday, June 09, 2005

3 births, 2 deaths, 1 opinion

Birth was in the air yesterday. Two women I know, due next Wednesday and Thursday respectively, had their babies yesterday. The first had her eleven pound son at home, a happy follow up to her first son's pre-term hospital birth a few years ago. The second had her fourth child (weight unknown), a daughter, at the hospital after only a few hours of labor.

Earlier this week a baby was born to a woman whose post-menopausal reproductive system was jump started with ovarian tissue transplanted from her twin sister. The new ovarian tissue not only revitalized her shrunken uterus, it also produced eggs, one of which went on to get fertilized naturally and become a baby girl.

In Texas, a man has been given a life sentence for killing his pregnant girlfriend's twin fetuses at her request. Under Texas's fetal protection law, a person is defined as existing from conception. Hence the father's efforts to effect an abortion at 5 months' gestation placed him in the same legal status as someone who murdered a five month old infant.

Pregnant women should be protected from violence that could harm them or their fetuses. The fetal protection law, however, bypasses the mother all together and focuses exclusively on her gestating offspring. The man in this trial was not tried for battery, even though he stepped on his girlfriend's uterus. He was tried for extinguishing the life developing inside her uterus.

Considering that doctors who perform abortions, as well as women who self-abort, are exempt from this law, it has weak moral footing on which to condemn some individuals to a lifetime of incarceration. If kiling fetuses is wrong, ANYONE who does it should be punished. If, rather, it's wrong to abuse a woman so severely that she miscarries, punish the violence against the woman.

If, however, you seek to codify the life-begins-at-conception tenet of abortion foes, then write a law like the fetal protection law, that sends a young man to jail for helping his girlfriend abort an unwanted pregnancy.


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