Ariel Castro could face the death penalty for forcing unwanted abortions on the women he kidnapped. This shows a double standard in the law, where an unborn child only has rights when we find it convenient.
While pro-abortionist activists contend that an unborn fetus is not a human life, the actual law has become increasingly inconsistent in this regard. Although abortion is legal across the United States, those who commit an “unwanted” abortion have been charged and even convicted of murder of the unborn child. The double standard pokes holes in the argument that an unborn fetus is not a human life, and therefore not deserving of the basic natural rights inherent on being human. Rather, as the law prosecutes those who terminate pregnancies without the mother’s consent with murder, it becomes more obvious that the fetus is indeed a human life that should be valued.
The most recent case that has brought this issue into the forefront is the heinous crimes of Ariel Castro against three women in Cleveland, Ohio. These three women were held captive for years, and were brutalized and raped by their captor. One of the victims, Michelle Knight, was “impregnated five times [by Castro] during her captivity, then starved and beaten, forcing the termination of the fetuses.” Now, along with rape and kidnapping charges, Ohio prosecutors may charge Castro with aggravated murder for the multiple forced miscarriages Knight suffered, which is punishable by the death penalty in Ohio.
2903.01 Aggravated murder.
(A) No person shall purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy.
(B) No person shall purposely cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy while committing or attempting to commit, or while fleeing immediately after committing or attempting to commit, kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson, arson, aggravated robbery, robbery, aggravated burglary, burglary, trespass in a habitation when a person is present or likely to be present, terrorism, or escape.”
The fact that abortion is legal in Ohio, but Castro’s forced termination of his victim’s pregnancies is considered aggravated murder is contradictory. For Castro’s crime to be considered murder, the fetus would have to be considered a human life and equal to that of any other adult victim of aggravated murder. But, if the law recognizes the fetus as a human life, how can abortion remain legally condoned without seeming morally incomprehensible?
The inconsistency is even more baffling when you consider that Ohio law also indicates that the penalty for committing such a crime can be the death penalty:
2929.02 Murder penalties.
(A) Whoever is convicted of or pleads guilty to aggravated murder in violation of section 2903.01 of the Revised Code shall suffer death or be imprisoned for life http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/2929.02
If the crime of terminating a pregnancy forcibly, such as in the case of Castro against Michelle Knight, is punishable by death, then the law has indicated the life of the unborn child terminated has just as much value as the life of its executor. The fetus then cannot be simply a blob of cells, but a human being who deserves the same rights and protections under the law as any other person who has suffered death at the hands of a heinous criminal. After all, a person cannot be charged with murder or sentenced to death for killing a blob of cells or even an animal, at least not in the United States. Charges of murder and the death penalty are only reserved to those who take a human life.
Despite the monstrous nature of these crimes, proponents of abortion would not like to treat them as being as abhorrent as they truly are. Why? Because it undercuts their arguments for abortion by strongly suggesting that the unborn child is a human life protected under the law as any other person would be. Ten years ago, another case in California made headlines: the murder of Laci Peterson at the hands of her husband, Scott Peterson. In that case, Scott Peterson was convicted of two murders, that of his wife and that of their unborn child, who Laci was pregnant with at the time of her murder. He was sentenced to death for his crimes. But, when the charges were first brought against Peterson, a president of a local chapter for the National Organization for Women, a strong supporter of abortion, spoke out: “There’s something about this that bother me a little…. If it was unborn, then I can’t see them charging him with murder…. It sets a kind of precedent.”
Indeed, a precedent was set after the Laci Peterson case, particularly when Congress passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, which made it a “federal offense to kill or injure a child in utero during the commission of another federally prosecutable violent crime.” That federal law, like the eventual verdict in the Laci Peterson case, was heavily opposed by pro-abortion advocates who felt that the act treated the unborn child as a human being deserving of rights under the law, which then “lay the groundwork for abolishing abortion rights.” Pro-abortionists were more concerned about protecting the right for women to choose abortion, rather than protecting the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children.
With the Castro case only just hitting the news, the question again will come to the forefront of the abortion debate: is a fetus a human life protected under the law and, if so, what does that imply about abortion? The value of life becomes determined solely by the woman carrying the fetus. If the woman wants the child, the fetus is a human life and the termination of the pregnancy is aggravated murder. But, if she does not want the child, the fetus is no longer considered a human life and the woman can simply terminate the pregnancy without consequence. Not only does the woman then have full control over the determination of when her unborn baby is a human life and when it is not (which can arbitrarily change from one month to the next without any logic or reason), her decision wholly determines whether or not the termination of her pregnancy is a crime, and one that can be punished by death. What’s worse, the life of the fetus becomes subjective, based only on the woman’s wants, rather than on if the fetus is, in fact, a human life.
If prosecutors in Ohio choose to charge Castro with aggravated murder in order to seek the death penalty in his case, particularly because he is accused of several other heinous felonies, those five fetuses will be treated as human lives and victims of a brutal crime, unlike the thousands of unborn babies aborted each day. With laws that recognize the forcible termination of a pregnancy as murder, it becomes apparent then that legal abortions condone the taking of a human life in favor of the woman’s choice. However, a fetus cannot simply stop being a human life simply because the woman wishes it to be. We must treat all unborn children as human lives, worthy of being valued and protected under the law, for the outcome is the same for the fetus whether a pregnancy is forcibly terminated or a woman chooses to have an abortion.
We can treat the fetus as a human life, abolishing abortion while charging those who forcibly terminate pregnancies with murder. Or we can blatantly disregard the life of the fetus, allowing for legal abortions to continue while also allowing men like Castro and Peterson to brutally kill the unborn children of their female victims without it ever being considered a crime.
A fetus is either a human life under the law or it isn’t, but America can’t have it both ways. America must treat a fetus as a life in all cases, and not allow the determination of life to be based solely on the arbitrary desires of the woman, who only declares it not a life in order to wrongly justify abortion.
Laura Giunta has a Master’s degree from St. John’s University. She is a children’s librarian residing in New York State