Monday, May 5, 2008


From the things that confuse me department, comes this story out of Louisiana.

19-year-old man was booked in the death of a fetus after he accidentally shot a pregnant woman and killed her unborn baby, authorities said.

Wilbert L. Luke Jr. shot Shawntell Walker, 17, in the abdomen Sunday while he was showing her a handgun, Jefferson Parish sheriff's deputies said.

Luke drove Walker, who was 22 weeks pregnant, to West Jefferson Medical Center, said sheriff's spokesman Col. John Fortunato. The fetus died during surgery, he said.

A .22-caliber handgun recovered from Luke had been stolen in St. Tammany Parish, Fortunato said. Luke said he bought the gun on the streets about a year ago, Fortunato said.

Luke was booked with third-degree feticide and possession of a stolen firearm.

Now, clearly, there is a crime here, as this mental giant shot a girl while showing off his gun. (I guess this is how one wins the heart of a pregnant 17 year old?) What I don't get is feticide. He's charged with a crime against the unborn child, not the mother. So, then, how isn't an abortion feticide?

I don't see how you can have it both ways.

I've wanted to comment on this for some time, and this story has provided the motivation. While I find abortion distasteful, I don't see how the removal of a parasite that can not function on it's own outside the host should be illegal. The only intellectually honest argument is that the embryo or fetus is a person at conception, with all of the rights one gets from their humanity. That's typically not the argument made by anti abortion folks, who seem to approve of "murder" if it's the product of incest or rape (how is that the baby's fault?). So if that's your position, you are instead placing your moral beliefs on others, much like those who wish to implement their desire to socialise healthcare, for example.

To those on the other side, who think abortions should remain legal, what is the argument that this should be any crime other than assault/battery/attempted murder on the mother? In my eyes, I just don't see how you can make it.

You can't have it both ways, I'm afraid.


Abhishek said...

There is another way to look at it and make sense of this distinction. Think of the foetus as a (valuable)*property* of the mother. Foeticide is then a crime only when committed by someone other than the 'owner'.

Infringement of property rights in addition to battery etc. That is how I see it.

Paul Stagg said...

Indeed. Good point.

It doesn't satisfy the issue of "Abortions are wrong except in the case of rape or incest."

Abhishek said...

>It doesn't satisfy the issue >of "Abortions are wrong except in >the case of rape or incest."

Yes I agree. I don't hold that particular view and cannot think of a logical defence of it. It is the same as those who say hunting is murder (but killing for food isn't).