Thursday, December 08, 2005

Michael: The Right's New Whipping Foetus

The next round of judge bashing from the Right will come courtesy of the Hawaiian Supreme Court ruling that a mother could not legally be held responsible for the death of her son due to her ingestion of a lethal dose of meth three days before his birth. The Hawaiian Supreme Court held that because the unborn child is not considered a legal person under Hawaiian statutes, that his mother could not be charged with manslaughter. The right should be railing about the lack of a Hawaiian 'fetal homicide' statute; instead they are decrying the Court's decision as immoral and indicative of the perfidy of judges.

34 states do have fetal homicide statutes, and the Federal government recently passed a the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (popularly known as the Laci and Conner Pederson Law), but that act does embrace actions by the mother which results in the death of her own foetus. These facts dicate the Court's decision in this case.

The great hypocrisy the Right is already engaging in all over talk radio and the internet is in pointing to this decision as an example of out-of-control activist judges at work, when it is exactly the opposite. The Hawaii Supreme Court refused to substitute their own judgment for that of the democratic process embodied in the Hawaiian legislature. They declined the opportunity to legislate from the bench, creating law out of their own moral or sociological views, which is exactly what the Right is constantly deanding that judges do. Damned if you do, damned if you don't, it seems.

If the Right did not have the ulterior motive of using such 'fetal homicide' laws as a tool to attack women's reproductive rights, instead of truly being interested in protecting foetuses from violence, then I would be able to support such laws. I think that there is ethical merit to protecting the lives of viable foetuses in gestae against violence. Unfortunately, the uncompromising aims of religious zealots to enshrine their own bad theology in our laws makes it impossible for reasonable people to make reasonable compromises regarding reproductive rights or to protect incipient life. As the Right would be quick to acknowledge, making compromises with petty dictators only results in them marching their troops over your borders.

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