Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dead Babies or Just Clumps?

From the Wall Street Journal's online Opinion Journal:

The Associated Press describes a gruesome possible crime scene in Ocean City, Md.:

Investigators must determine whether all four bodies found at the home were the offspring of Christy Freeman. Freeman, who also has four living children, has been charged in the death of one newborn found last week wrapped in a bloodied towel under her bathroom sink.

That body was determined to have been at 26-weeks gestation. Investigators still need to figure out how old the others were when they died, when they died, and whether Freeman or someone else was responsible for the deaths.

The timing is critical. If the pre-term infants were too young to be considered viable outside the womb, Freeman can't be charged with murder. And if they were old enough to live outside the womb, but died before Maryland passed its 2005 fetal homicide law, it may not be a crime even if Freeman caused their deaths.

The AP story is a bit unclear as to whether Freeman could be charged even if she did kill the "pre-term infants":

The 2005 fetal homicide was designed to penalize those who kill a pregnant woman or her viable fetus, but it includes a provision shielding pregnant women from prosecution for actions that result in their own fetus's death....

State Delegate Susan K. McComas, a Republican who co-sponsored the 2005 bill, said the exemption was added by majority Democrats who feared the bill would restrict a woman's right to abortion. "We weren't contemplating a woman doing something to her own fetus," McComas said.

Right, because abortion has nothing to do with "a woman doing something to her own fetus."

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