Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Interesting little thought exercise

This came to mind today while I was driving home from class. Don't ask me why; it just did.
Suppose there's a person (man or woman) who is a fervent right-to-lifer, someone who thinks that abortion is immoral and should be illegal, that it's wrong to deny a living person the opportunity to live, and that abortionists and the women having abortions are murderers. This person is on the way to a planned parenthood clinic to protest its continued existence. While she's driving on the street where the clinic is located, he or she momentarily looks away from the road, and in that instance, rear-ends a woman who is there for an abortion appointment. As a result of the rear-end collision, the pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage.
The issue to consider is, in this right-to-lifer's mind, is he or she a murderer or manslaughterer? If this person stands by the mantra that "life begins at conception," then, the unintended death of the fetus via miscarriage as a result of the rear-end collision would (I think) have to be declared involuntary manslaughter. If the fetus is not actually "alive" in the legal sense (as it's currently defined), then, the miscarriage is an unfortunate accident, and one that had the same effect that the abortion she tried to stop would have had.

3 comments:

English Professor said...

Yes, that's a sticky one. As I understand it, Bush wants the death of a fetus to be considered a crime unto itself if it occurs during another crime--when a woman is shot, for instance, so that the baby dies as well, the perpetrator would be charged with two murders. Abortion rights advocates are opposed to such a law, because it makes the fetus a "human" in the eyes of the law, which they belive would lead inevitably to abortion again becoming illegal. As to the hypothetical woman who caused the accident, do you think she would feel like a murderer? I doubt it, as the act was not willful.
It's amazing what you'll think about while driving if there's nothing interesting on NPR, isn't it?

Steve said...

Unfortunately, I don't yet understand enough about the law to speak too intelligently as to its application...

I can't quite wrap my mind around the idea of the death of a fetus in a violent crime being a murder when a miscarriage caused by a car accident or stress from work environment or whatever would not be...

I have to consider this much more. It seems like it'd be opening the floodgates to litigation...

AshleyWest said...

What about that guy who killed his pregnant wife? He was charged with two counts of murder, wasn't he? I don't really remember.
If abortion was considered as murder, then anyone willingly having one could be charged with murder. But if something like what happened in the story took place, this was an accident. Personally, if I accidentally killed someone in a car crash, I would feel guilty if I was being careless. Even if it was an unborn child on its way to being killed anyway.