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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Colorado Senate: Birth Control = First Degree Murder

Colorado’s Senate has passed a bill called “First Degree Homicide Of The Unborn Child Bill”, according to njcronk on DKOS.

The stated intent of the bill is to be able to charge murderers twice for killing a pregnant woman. But such a law cannot stop there.

As LeftHandedMan says in the first comment at DKOS:

Does the Doctor and the woman both get the death penalty, or just the Doctor?

If the nurse does her job, is she guilty of second degree murder or neglegent homicide? Should she get the death penalty too? Like a getaway driver who helps a first-degree murderer get away might get in some states?

If a woman miscarries, is that murder or just involuntary manslaughter?

It gets both worse and, perhaps, better when you look deeper.

Worse, because according to the National Council of State Legislatures:

Currently, at least 38 states have fetal homicide laws.  The states include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. At least 20 states have fetal homicide laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy (“any state of gestation,” “conception,” “fertilization” or “post-fertilization”);

“Better”, perhaps, because the link above is from November 2010 and I don’t think there have been any convictions from any of those laws against doctors or women for having or performing abortions.

But each of those laws must, it would appear, have a downward pressure on medical professionals. Each is one more potential legal time-bomb, one more reason for terrorists to buy rifles and bomb making tools. And use them.

We have discussed the issue here quite a bit, and elsewhere in each of our lives much much more. Abortion is a hard and emotional issue for everyone involved. Those who honestly believe that sperm + egg = person are not acting out of ill will but expressing an honest concern. They just do not often live in the real world when they take this belief and try to make it law.

The Colorado law implicitly designates a fertilized egg as a human being. That every fertilized egg that fails to implant in the uterus wall is legally, morally and ethically equivalent to a person with family and friends being hit by a bus in the prime of life. That the 1/3 of fertilized eggs that fail to become viable in the first trimester are each precisely the same as a ten-year-old child dying of leukemia.

It means that taking birth control pills that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg is the legal, moral and ethical equivalent of planning and carrying out an execution of someone’s father, brother, mother, sister. That inserting an IUD is the same as placing a bomb under a car.

I know and love some people who hold these views, but this is not a world we can all live in. It is not a world that can be legislated.

As I have said before, I do not know how we ever resolve this issue. Even removing the paleolithic superstitions (excuse me: “respected systems of Faith”), the moment of personhood remains an important and perhaps scientifically irresolvable topic.

However we work through this issue, replacing sentient consideration with the serotonin-induced hallucinations of mystic shamans is not the way. America is – by definition – a place where I do not have to be driven by the invisible people others believe are whispering in their ears. If we want to debate and even legislate the Moment of Personhood we have to demand that the opinions of magic trees, invisible deities and sacred stones are not taken into consideration.

This is complicated enough to figure out, already.


  1. At least 20 states have fetal homicide laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy (“any state of gestation,” “conception,” “fertilization” or “post-fertilization”)

    make use of the morning after pill homicide?

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