Fetal Homicide Ruling in Alabama Mandates ‘Roe Exception’ Challenge

MONTGOMERY, AL – Though Roe v. Wade purportedly prevents state’s from banning, or even significantly restricting abortion, there currently exists a double standard when it comes to the rights of the unborn. In many states, ‘fetal homicide’ laws are on the books and enforced in courts of law on the principle that the killing of a pregnant woman necessarily kills the woman’s child in the womb.

These laws assign personhood, and the corresponding individual rights, to the unborn baby of a slain mother in an apparent contravention of Roe v. Wade. Actually, as fetal homicide laws have proliferated the notion that a mother can kill her child, but another individual cannot, has become known in legal circles as the ‘Roe Exception.’

A recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court in the case of a man facing a death sentence for a double murder- a mother and unborn child – brings a renewed focus on resolving this contradiction.

“As the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the state’s fetal homicide law in a ruling this month, one of the justices said the decision should force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Justice Tom Parker said it is a “logical fallacy” for the government to consider a fetus a life for the purposes of a murder conviction but not when it comes to a woman deciding to end her pregnancy.

Even lawyers within the pro-life community were conflicted on whether that is the kind of challenge the high courtwould — or even should — take up, but they said the dissonance between abortion jurisprudence and other areas of law, where a fetus is granted many of the attributes of personhood, is becoming tenuous.

“Fetal homicide laws acknowledge what science has already proven: that a unique human life begins at the very moment of fertilization. Abortion laws reject that reality,” said Lila Rose, a prominent pro-life advocate and president of Live Action.

The case in Alabama involved Jessie Livell Phillips, who was convicted of killing his wife when she was eight weeks pregnant.

A jury found him guilty of murder of “two or more persons” by one act, using a 2006 law that defined “person” as including a child in utero. The court sentenced him to death.”

Ayn Rand often said that ‘contradictions do not exist; if you find one, check your premises.’ When you do that you’ll find that those premises are often different, and so it is with this issue.

There is one premise used when a mother is the one choosing to kill her baby in utero, and an entirely different premise used when it is someone else that commits the act. One of these premises is morally wrong, and contrary to the system of Individual Rights our Constitution and Bill of Rights was designed to protect.

“I urge the Supreme Court of the United States to reconsider the Roe exception and to overrule this constitutional aberration. Return the power to the states to fully protect the most vulnerable among us,” he wrote in his concurring opinion.

Some pro-choice advocates agree that there is an inconsistency but want to go the other way by curtailing laws protecting fetuses. Advocates say the laws don’t protect women against violence and can give states more avenues to interfere with women’s rights.

Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, cited the cases of a woman who was arrested on attempted-feticide charges after accidentally falling down a stairwell, a woman who served eight years in prison for a stillbirth after a positive test for illegal drugs, and a woman who was arrested after losing her child following a suicide attempt.

“The real question is in what manner can women be deprived of their standing as constitutional persons?” Ms. Paltrow said.”

The legal dilemma between these two opposing doctrines does, in our view, require the Supreme Court of the United States to weigh in, meaning Roe v. Wade could finally be overturned.

Read more here.

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