Family Research Council

Fetal homicide laws and the logical inconsistency of abortion

By Arina Grossu Director, Center for Human Dignity


Arina Grossu is Director, Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Daily Caller on March 7, 2014.


Kansan Scott Bollig, 30, was recently charged with first-degree murder after lacing his eight- to 10-week pregnant girlfriend's pancakes with an abortion-inducing drug. Naomi Abbott, 36, miscarried their child and suffered "great bodily harm." While the drug has not been revealed by authorities, there have been other recent cases where misoprostol (Cytotec) was used as well as mifepristone (RU-486).

John Andrew Welden, 28, of Florida was also recently sentenced to almost 14 years in prison. He tricked his six-week pregnant girlfriend by putting Cytotec into a pill bottle with a fake label for antibiotics. After his girlfriend, Remee Lee, 26, took the drug, she miscarried. She told the court, "He hurt me really badly. I felt death inside of me that day."

Early medical abortions are on the rise. A report released earlier this month by the Guttmacher Institute shows that 20 percent more early medication abortions were done in 2011 than in 2008. Using gestational data from the CDC, Guttmacher estimated that 36 percent of abortions up to nine weeks' gestation in 2011 were early medication procedures compared to 26 percent in 2008.

The report continued, "Virtually all early medication abortions (98 percent) were done with mifepristone and the rest with methotrexate or misprostol alone ... The drug misoprostol is part of the early medication regimen and is typically taken 24-72 hours after mifepristone. However, it can also be used to terminate a pregnancy, and while it is less effective than the combined regimen, clinical studies have shown that misoprostol alone can successfully terminate a pregnancy 76-90 percent of the time ... Over the last decade, anecdotal and media reports suggest that some U.S. women procure the drug - from contacts living in countries where it is available without a prescription, from the black market and through the Internet - and use it to terminate their pregnancies."

The ease of procuring and using Cytotec, and its relative success rate - 76-90 percent of the time it will kill the baby when used alone - has led to increased abuse of this drug, both on and off the black market, by the women themselves when they want an abortion. And as we've recently seen, it is sometimes used by boyfriends to trick women into having an abortion.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, passed into law in 2004, recognizes a child in utero as a legal victim if he or she is injured or killed. Part (d) states: "As used in this section, the term 'unborn child' means a child in utero, and the term 'child in utero' or 'child, who is in utero' means a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb." Additionally, there are at least 38 states that have fetal homicide laws, of which at least 28 states have laws that apply to any stage of pregnancy. These are good laws that recognize and protect the unborn child as a legal victim if he or she is injured or killed. Necessarily though, because of Roe vs. Wade, the laws must make an exception for abortion.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, for example, reads, "(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit the prosecution - (1) of any person for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is implied by law."

This is the logical inconsistency of abortion. Why is the "consent of the pregnant woman" the parameter by which personhood is defined? Why is the killing of an unborn child considered "murder" when the woman wants her child, but just a "procedure" when she "chooses" to abort? "Wantedness" or "unwantedness" is not an adequate criteria for defining personhood. If the child in utero is defined as "a member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development" while carried in the womb, should not her life be protected at all times? And when does anyone's choice determine the humanness and value of another person?

These questions remain unanswered by abortion advocates. Their silence is tragic and telling.