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Archive for Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Girl’s death spurs call for new fetal law

June 20, 2006

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— The slaying of a pregnant girl in Wichita prompted calls Monday for a law that would allow prosecution for the death of an unborn fetus.

In renewing its effort, the state's largest anti-abortion group, Kansans for Life, also blamed Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and state Senate leaders for failure to pass such a law during the last legislative session.

"The governor and GOP Senate leadership kowtowed to the abortion industry and other lobbyists for so-called 'women's interests,'" a statement from Kansans for Life said.

Sebelius' office responded that the killing earlier this month of 14-year-old Chelsea Brooks, who was nine months pregnant, was a tragic situation.

"Gov. Sebelius has the utmost sympathy for the family and friends of Chelsea Brooks," Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

As for the legislation promoted by Kansans for Life, Corcoran said Sebelius would be happy to consider it but added "she never had the opportunity to review this particular bill as it did not pass both houses of the Legislature."

The House approved House Bill 2300 in 2005.

The bill would have allowed anyone who killed a pregnant woman to also be charged in the death of the fetus.

It has been opposed by abortion-rights groups because they say giving a fetus equal status as a person in the criminal code may set the stage for restricting abortions.

The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence also testified against it, saying the measure did nothing to address violence against women.

Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the Senate didn't act on the bill because it got caught up in the crush of late legislation.

"It may have come over too late," Vratil said.

It was referred to the committee less than a week before the end of the regular session, and it wasn't considered when lawmakers returned for the wrap-up session that lasted from April 26 to May 10.

The wrap-up session was dominated by legislation dealing with school finance, sex predators, eminent domain and business tax cuts.

Vratil said he didn't know whether he supported such a measure.

"We haven't had a hearing on it," he said.

The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence also testified against it, saying the measure did nothing to address violence against women.

Concerning the death of Chelsea Brooks, three suspects have been arrested in connection with the crime.

One of them is 19-year-old Elgin Robinson, who friends said once had a relationship with Chelsea.

Comments

Redzilla 8 years, 6 months ago

Isn't Chelsea's death important enough? Not even biblical law considers an unborn baby's death murder.

craigers 8 years, 6 months ago

Honestly, I have to agree with the abortion rights activists in a way. You can't have it both ways. You can't punish a person for killing two humans when killing a pregnant woman, and then turn away when the pregnant woman decides to terminate the pregnancy herself. It is either a human life or it isn't. If this law passes then it would be easy to target abortions as murders and make laws in that respect.

Charla Welch 8 years, 6 months ago

Notice that the people pushing the bill are the pro-life/anti-abortion crowd. If they can get this bill passed, they'll probably see it as a foot in the door for making abortions illegal again.

chzypoof1 8 years, 6 months ago

craigers- I'm sure that is the point. There are a lot of people, including myself, that do consider abortion murder. Maybe this is a positive step towards outlawing the killing of innocent children every day.

By the way, to both of you, this law already exists in other states.

happyone 8 years, 6 months ago

This is a tough one. I believe we should keep abortion legal, but I also feel that harm done to a pregnant woman should have consiquinces (sp?) because of the baby. BUT I don't think we can have it both ways.....so leave it the way it is...too sad that the girl was only 14 and pregnant and then murdered, what a messed up world we live in

craigers 8 years, 6 months ago

chzypoof, I agree with you that abortions are murder. However, I see it as very shaky ground to consider the baby an actual life in one case and not the other. I am all for this legislation if it means that abortions would be considered the same in the near future. It this is step one then I say let's do it.

erichaar 8 years, 6 months ago

"The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence also testified against it" This makes zero sense-- unless, of course, the coalition moonlights as a pro-abortion front organization.

Why wouldn't they support a bill that might make a murderer think twice before committing double homicide?

And Craigers, you are right one at least on count: "It is either a human life or it isn't."

aquakej 8 years, 6 months ago

How about we consider the killing of a fetus in the third trimester murder? I think most pro-abortionists (myself included) would go along with that. Obviously, if you kill a woman who is 3 weeks pregnant, you'd be crazy to charge the murderer with the death of a child. BUT, this girl was 9 months pregnant. That dead baby could have survived outside of the womb; in a few more weeks, it would have easiliy gained "person" status. This case seems pretty cut and dry; the death of a 9 mo. fetus should be charged as murder.

mom_of_three 8 years, 6 months ago

I agree with you aquakej. If the fetus was able to survive outside of the womb, then it should be considered murder. She was due in 2 weeks. And according to the Wichita paper, Elgin Robinson was considered the father.
This is such a tragedy.
And yes, Chelsea's murder should be enough to give them the death penalty. And I hope they use it.

craigers 8 years, 6 months ago

aquakej, I think that would at least be a good compromise. Too bad we can't vote on it and put it on Sebelius' desk!!

Baille 8 years, 6 months ago

The distinction between taking the life of a human being born alive and the killing of a fetus is an important one. This does not mean that the killing of a fetus should not have consequences. California has a pretty good feticide law if I remember correctly.

It makes no sense to engage in a debate about whether a fetus is a fully realized human being when cases such as this one an be dealt with by a straightforward statute.

California Penal Law 187. (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought. (b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act which results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

(1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Chapter 11 (commencing with Section 25950) of Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code. (2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician's and surgeon's certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not. (3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus. (c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 6 months ago

There's a huge difference between a woman and her physician choosing to terminate a pregnancy and criminal action against a woman that causes the death of a fetus. That could easily be written into any law, but abortion opponents are more interested in a backdoor way to outlaw abortion.

Bruce Rist 8 years, 6 months ago

I thought the role of government was to help and protect those that can not help themselves. What's more defenseless than a little baby? Born and unborn.

mom_of_three 8 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the info Baille.

Bozo, good point.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years, 6 months ago

There is a big difference between a girl choosing abortion and someone killing a mother and her unborn child. Huge difference! Point one - if the girl was still pregnant that means she hadn't made the choice to have an abortion. Point two - what if this girl were older and married? What would you tell the father of the baby? "We will prosecute for the murder of your wife, but the baby didn't matter because it could potentially have been aborted anyways." Not to get hung up on the controversy of abortion, there is a big difference here because of who made the choice to end the life of the baby. I can't believe there is not a law in place for this.

craigers 8 years, 6 months ago

valid opinions, I think your point one is where the argument is completely flawed. You are saying before going any further that based on what the mother wants to view the pregnancy as is a distinction. That is open to very wide interpretation based on the mother's choice and I think that is a flawed way of looking at it. A pregnancy is a pregnancy where life has been created and should be treated as such, not treated in the way the mother wants to look at it. Once again, this is just my opinion.

However, I thought we already had something like this in place already, so this action seems odd. Either way a law does need to be in place for these cases.

Jamesaust 8 years, 6 months ago

As usual, reading the proposed statute is useful. LJW has a link above. Unfortunately, what the proposal amends isn't linked to so you have to use some imagination to merge the two.

First, this proposal states flat out that any abortion will be considered murder. It contains no exception for any purpose whatsoever, including rape, incest, health & life of the mother. As such, it is unconstitutional.

Second, this proposal contains a "severability clause" essentially saying that once the first item above is inevitably declared unconstitutional, it can be severed from the rest of the statute. So, the authors are playing some political games here, knowing full well that their proposal violates the constitution they swear (before God, nonethless) to uphold.

Third, this proposal includes zygotes as indistinguishable from human beings. Many believe that they should be indistinguishable (a/k/a, "from conception"). However, no zygote begins a path to human life until - or rather IF - it is succesfully implanted in the womb. This is called biology, although in a state at war with science it isn't surprising that this is unknown to many. Most are not successfully implanted and no human being ever comes into existence. (More on that point next.) Nevertheless, the belief that a zygote is the equivalent of a human life is not a scientific one but rather based solely upon religious belief. As such, it probably also has constitutional issues.

Fourth, there is the problem of knowledge, what the lawyers call mens rea. It has always, even before the U.S. itself, been a requirement to convict someone of murder that the killer must have an intent to murder. One may accidentally kill but one does not accidentally murder. While in many cases it may be self-evident that the woman is pregnant and so unavoidable knowledge that killing one will, or is likely to, kill the other, it is not true in many other cases. Indeed, one need not strain at all to imagine a pregnancy discovered for the first time not by the mother nor of course the killer but by the pathologist at an autopsy. Such a scenario most certainly would not pass constitutional muster.

Fifth, other than the political accomplishment of statutorily enacting a politically correct faith-based belief that abortion is murder (I'll believe that when they've lined the mothers up against the wall for execution), can anyone imagine a practical scenario for applying this law? Can anyone please present a case where a killer would not be convicted for murdering the woman but would be convicted for murdering the unborn? If not, then what is the purpose of this proposal? (Btw - would traditional defenses to murder, such as self-defense, also apply for the killer against the unborn as well as the woman?)

Baille 8 years, 6 months ago

What about ectopic pregnancies, Aust?

Emily Hadley 8 years, 6 months ago

The savage or violent nature of a crime is always considered individually in trials, regardless of the category of first degree, second degree, etc. I would think the killer's intentions would be weighed by any judge or jury without additional charges being filed on behalf of the fetus.

i_have_only_valid_opinions 8 years, 6 months ago

craigers:

So, by your comments regarding "a pregnancy is a pregnancy" are you saying you are pro-life? That's perfectly fine if you are, I am just wondering from what perspective you are coming from. My previous post was an attempt to state that I think it is absolutely ridiculous that there won't be prosecution over the death of the baby because of the fact that the mother potentially could have aborted it at one point in time if she had chosen to. I understand their attempt to link the two actions together for political agenda purposes, but (like my previous post) that is flawed.

craigers 8 years, 6 months ago

valid opinions, you are correct, I am very pro-life.

erichaar 8 years, 6 months ago

Sometimes I'm just as guilty, but jamesaust does a masterful job at vilifying an opinion he doesn't agree with.

He's equally deft at twisting logic to make a pseudo-point to fit his opinion.

brent 8 years, 6 months ago

MY DAUGHTER 14 ADMITTED HAVING INTERCORSE WITH A 19 YEAR OLD AND THE DOUGLAS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY DID NOTHING THEY SAID HE USED BAD JUDGEMENT AND GAVE HIM DIVERSION BECAUSE HE WANTED A RELATIONSHIP WITH HER RAPE = DIVERSION IN DOUGLAS COUNTY KANSAS THE COURTS ARE THE PROBLEM UNDER 14 IS RAPE.!! AND IF THE COURTS WOULD DO THERE JOB THIS TRAGITY WOULD OF NEVER HAPPENED HOW ABOUT ENFORCING THE LAWS THAT ARE IN PLACE. FROM AN ENRAGED CITIZEN OF KANSAS

Baille 8 years, 6 months ago

And an uncomfortable silence falls over the room.

ljlook 8 years, 6 months ago

Hey brent,

Try not using ALLCAPS. And a little punctuation helps sometimes too.

You said she admitted having interecourse with a 19 yr. old. The 19 year old is wrong, BIG TIME. But she's just as wrong for doing it. Maybe she should be brought under control.

mom_of_three 8 years, 6 months ago

IN case anyone care's, the 17 year old arrested in the case was charged with Capital murder and he could be tried as an adult. The other two have not been charged yet.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 6 months ago

Too bad that abstinence class was too late for Chelsea and the baby.

staff04 8 years, 6 months ago

I believe that it should be a second, prosecutable offense. In my opinion however, it should be a second, prosecutable offense against the mother.

That's where I draw the distinction and find flawed logic in trying to equate this to abortion.

Redzilla 8 years, 6 months ago

Let's see what the insurance lobby has to say...if you can prosecute someone for "murdering" an unborn baby, shouldn't you be able to get life insurance on an unborn baby? I'm guessing they won't go for that one, considering the high rates of miscarriage early on in pregnancy.

jfgibson 8 years, 6 months ago

Let's not forget. Abortion is a choice. Murder is not.

Baille 8 years, 6 months ago

It's not? One can't choose to kill another?

I don't get it.

bettie 8 years, 6 months ago

staff04, craigers, happyone , and others:

Current state law provides for a second prosecutable charge. They're called "injury against pregnant women" crimes. There are two statutes, K.S.A. 21-3440 and K.S.A 21-441, that basically double the sentence of the crime that caused the miscarriage.

You can read them here (click "next" for 21-441) : http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-statutes/getStatuteFile.do?number=/21-3440.html

Since the sentences for these crimes are scaled to the original offense, someone who causes a miscarriage in a car accident will be charged differently than someone who violently and intentionally causes one. They are both, however, subject to longer sentencing.

Someone mentioned before that we should enforce the laws that are already in place. T

These statutes are the perfect example - since they were enacted in 1996, only three people have ever been convicted for "injury to a pregnant woman."

bettie 8 years, 6 months ago

Current state law provides for a second prosecutable charge. They're called "injury against pregnant women" crimes. There are two statutes, K.S.A. 21-3440 and K.S.A 21-441, that basically double the sentence of the crime that caused the miscarriage.

You can read them here (click "next" for 21-441) : http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-stat...

Since the sentences for these crimes are scaled to the original offense, someone who causes a miscarriage in a car accident will be charged differently than someone who violently and intentionally causes one. They are both, however, subject to longer sentencing.

Someone mentioned before that we should enforce the laws that are already in place. T

These statutes are the perfect example - since they were enacted in 1996, only three people have ever been convicted for "injury to a pregnant woman."

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