Tags: Could | the | Peterson | Conviction | Overturn | Roe | Wade?

Could the Peterson Conviction Overturn Roe v. Wade?

Wednesday, 08 December 2004 12:00 AM

The double-murder conviction of Peterson was critical to the prosecution’s case, because the special circumstance of a double homicide provides the legal means to impose the death penalty, an option the jury is currently considering.

But what will the conviction mean to abortion rights? Does this double-murder conviction signal a change in the court’s and society’s perception of when life begins?

Yes, cheers resounded on news of this conviction, but it has to make pro-choice advocates queasy. Thirty-one states already have fetal homicide laws, and some pro-life advocates expect that this ruling will resonate in those states contemplating such laws.

Although legal stipulations of fetal homicide laws vary from state to state, with some excluding abortion, the Peterson ruling, which confirms a fetus as a legal entity separate from the pregnant woman, raises many questions and blurs the line of legality.

This historic conviction may call into question of whose rights trump whose. Are the mother’s rights superior to that of the unborn child? Where is the threshold in allowing a fetus’s life to be ended? And under what circumstances?

Is intent enough to draw the line between an abortion and murder? If the mother decides to terminate a fetus’s life, does her intent make it a legal action, but if a third party commits violence against a “wanted” fetus, then the act is illegal? And what does this conviction mean to the late-term-abortion fight? Certainly there are some serious contradictions and implications raised by this ruling.

Essentially, this conviction, and others like it, recognizes the fetus as a separate entity with its own civil liberties. This could foster a chain reaction that causes ramifications all the way back to Roe v. Wade, the mere mention of which throws many into a tailspin. Although Roe hinges on constitutional privacy issues, the Peterson conviction makes the murder of an unborn child very public.

While some say that you can’t legislate morality, the Peterson case certainly complicates such a simple claim. This situation is rife with contradictions, complications and a whole host of other quagmires. It’s a rights issue. It’s a murder issue. And all of it is a morality issue.

It’s only a matter of time before the conflict between fetal rights, fetal homicide and abortion rights finds its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the second-degree murder conviction for the death of baby Connor may well be the catalyst.

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The double-murder conviction of Peterson was critical to the prosecution's case, because the special circumstance of a double homicide provides the legal means to impose the death penalty, an option the jury is currently considering. But what will the conviction mean...
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2004-00-08
Wednesday, 08 December 2004 12:00 AM
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