NewsFri Oct 30, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
Man Imprisoned Under Anti-Abortion Law for Beating Pregnant 17-Year-Old to Induce Miscarriage
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
VERNAL, Utah, October 30, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A 21 year-old Utah man was sentenced to five years in prison on Tuesday for beating a pregnant 17 year-old girl to try to cause a miscarriage, after she paid him to do so.
Prosecutors said the seven months pregnant Uintah County girl paid Aaron Harrison $150 to beat her after her boyfriend threatened a breakup if she didn't abort the child.
Court documents said Harrison brought the girl in May to his home, where he was accused of kicking and biting her, leaving bruises on her stomach and a bite mark on her neck. The baby survived the beating and was safely delivered in August.
Harrison had pleaded guilty to second-degree felony charge of attempted murder, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. But District Judge A. Lynn Payne instead sentenced him under Utah's anti-abortion statute, saying a charge of third-degree "attempted killing of an unborn child" better fit the facts of the case, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The judge called Harrison's conduct in the beating case "horrible beyond description" and said he had "a remarkable disregard for human life."
"I don't think words can describe the kind of depraved conduct you entered into in trying to take the life of an (unborn) child," Judge Payne said to Harrison from the bench.
Harrison was also sentenced in 8th District Court in connection with three other third-degree felonies, each carrying up to five years imprisonment, which means he will spend up to twenty years behind bars.
The girl, whose identity was not reported, pleaded no contest in June to a second-degree felony charge of criminal solicitation to commit murder for paying Harrison to assault her. Juvenile Court Judge Larry Steele ordered her to be placed in the custody of Utah Juvenile Justice Services until she was 21, but reversed his decision and released her earlier this month after ruling that she was seeking an abortion and was therefore not criminally liable.
Steele called the girl's actions "shocking and crude" in the ruling, but said that under state law, "a woman who solicits or seeks to have another cause an abortion of her own unborn child cannot be criminally liable."
Dr. Frank Joseph, a retired Catholic physician from Southern California who operates a pro-life website called Abortion Truths, commented on the incongruity of the case.
"Here's a case where the girl pays someone to kill her unborn child and it failed but the perpetrator was still sent to prison and the girl was given a slap on her wrist," Dr. Joseph observed.
"Had she paid an abortionist to kill her child, that would have been legal and the girl would not have broken the law and neither would have the abortionist."
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the girl, who is now 18, is seeking custody of the baby.
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