New legal ground: the implications of charging abortionists with ‘murdering’ fetuses
January 4, 2012 (JillStanek.com) - On December 28 a Maryland grand jury indicted abortionists Steven Brigham and Nicola Riley on several counts of first and second degree murder of viable, preborn babies.
Authorities began investigating Brigham and Riley in August 2010 after the two behaved suspiciously when dumping an 18-yr-old victim of a botched abortion at a hospital near Brigham’s Elkton mill.
Found in that mill were 35 late-term aborted babies in a freezer, many believed viable, one full-term at 36 weeks, according to an AP report.
Brigham is now locked up in New Jersey and Brigham in Utah, both awaiting extradition.
Cecil County District Attorney Ellis Rollins told Reuters, “This is probably the first case that Maryland has ever seen with this factual scenario using this statute.”
Actually this is the first case the United States has ever seen that uses a fetal homicide law to charge abortionists with murder.
To be clear, Maryland authorities did not turn to a post-viability abortion ban to prosecute Brigham and Riley, although it has one on the books, as, according to Guttmacher, 40 states do. Again, authorites are prosecuting these abortionists under Maryland’s fetal homicide law.
Due to the Supreme Court’s broad health exception, both sides have considered post-viability abortion bans generally toothless, with the exception of newly passed fetal pain laws, as yet untested at the SC level.
“But fetal homicide laws would have fangs if used against abortionists,” said Americans United for Life’s Clarke Forsythe to me in a phone interview today. “Maryland’s unprecedented application to abortion has the potential to be used more broadly and must be scaring abortion proponents silly.”
According to Forsythe, the first fetal homicide law wasn’t passed until 1970, in reaction to abortion being legalized around the country. Now 38 states have one on the books, 21 of those protecting preborn human life from the moment of conception.
These laws have been written in such a way so as to avoid the abortion issue. Many explicitly list abortion as an exception.
Nevertheless, abortion proponents have always complained the day would come when fetal homicide laws would be used in the abortion arena.
And really, rightfully so. It defies common sense to consider it murder if a boyfriend, drunk driver, or bank robber kills a preborn baby but not if an abortionist does.
Furthermore, there are usually enhanced penalties if someone is paid to kill someone else, further implicating abortionists were not abortion currently sacrosanct in U.S. law.
In other words, some fetal homicide laws carve out exceptions for a mother and her paid hit man to commit first degree murder. Up to now, pro-lifers and pro-aborts alike have had to live with this legal incoherence.
But with the prosecution of Brigham and Riley, that bridge has been crossed.
Lawyers for the two will argue the fetal homicide law cannot be applied against them, or that the charges are unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, abortion groups are hobbled. They haven’t come to the defense of Kermit Gosnell, and they aren’t coming to the defense of Brigham and Riley. They will have trouble challenging this case if and when it works its way up to the Supreme Court. Recall it is emanating from a liberal state. But the Cecil Co. district attorney has apparently determined he will have sufficient public support, since 80% of Americans consistently poll they don’t like late-term abortions.
Should these charges stick, the door will be opened for prosecutors in other states to use fetal homicide laws against abortionists, and not necessarily for worst case scenarios, since some fetal homicide laws protect babies from the moment of conception.
“The other side is surely worried about this,” said Forsythe. “They are worried about the decentralization. And they are worried they can’t control how fetal homicide laws might now be applied in 38 other states.”
Reprinted with the generous permission of the author from JillStanek.com