Friday, February 5, 2010

Mothers Aggrieved At Loss Of Fetuses

Addressed to Legislators, the Free Press Editor, others:

The February 4, 2010 issue of the Burlington Vermont Free Press documented renewed concern about whether the death of a fetus, due to negligence or worse, ought to have a legal consequence. This is obviously a highly charged and divisive debate and deserves a Solomonic solution.

To have a crime requires that someone has been hurt. The Pro-Life/Anti-Abortion camp would make the fetuses the hurt party, while the Pro-Choice camp worries that calling a fetus a party to a crime would make it a person and protected under other laws, such as those against murder. But as demonstrated by the reported automobile accidents, clearly there is a grievance to be addressed, in the deaths of these fetuses.

We might instead regard the mother as the aggrieved party. This seems logical, since she is the conscious actor most affected by the loss. Further, since the right to abortion gives her determinative power over the fetus(es), they are hers to have or lose. Making the mother the hurt party would expose the perpetrator to consequences, and provide the mother with a means of redress.

I have written with a feeling of urgency because I can see the harm that can come from this debate, especially to choice advocates who, absent any crime to prosecute, are cast as callous to the emotional consequences to the mother. I believe that the death of a fetus ought to be a crime against the mother, who holds sole and immutable responsibility for the life of the unborn up to the moment of birth.

No comments: