Force Miscarriages and Earn Aggravated Murder Charges?

Video from a press conference on the crazy Cleveland kidnapping story. For purposes of this post you only need to watch the county prosecutor’s short remarks at the beginning. I highlight one of them as my point of departure…

The ear-catching line:

“…each act of aggravated murder he committed by terminating pregnancies…”

The Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Thomas McGinty, intends to pursue charges against Ariel Castro for each and every criminal action that evidence can show Castro may have committed over the ten years he held three women captive in Cleveland. The charges could number in the thousands, based on evidence and testimony

That includes multiple charges for felonious assault, rape, perhaps a separate kidnapping charge for each day of their captivity, and a whole host of things. But the most remarkable possible charge, given the way our laws handle such things, is the “aggravated murder” charge for starving and beating the women until they miscarried when he got them pregnant.

Notice the language of the alleged offense: “terminating pregnancies.” He didn’t say, “killing children,” or “aborting fetuses,” or anything that recognizes the humanity of the child in utero, but he still believes aggravated murder charges are a possibility.

Charges should certainly be pursued for the starvation and the assault that caused the miscarriages, but aggravated murder charges should only apply if the human entity killed had his or her own personal right to life. We don’t know the exact gestational age of the fetuses at the time of miscarriage, but if the fetus who was killed in the miscarriage could just as legally be aborted as carried to term, why pursue charges for murder? Mothers can unilaterally choose to “terminate the pregnancy,” why can’t fathers? Granted, fathers cannot starve and beat the woman they impregnated, but again, starving and beating someone don’t reach the level of “aggravated murder” unless someone died in the process.

FYI: I'm a child, not a choice.

FYI: I’m a child, not a choice.

I’m sure I don’t need to clarify this, but I agree that intentionally killing an unborn child should be considered murder. My commentary here is on the irony and inconsistency built into our laws regarding unborn human life: if the child is wanted causing its death can result in criminal charges, as in a drunk driver who kills a pregnant woman being charged with two counts of homicide, but if the child is not wanted it can be offed in any number of horrific ways with the government’s blessing.

And then we have this case. It is not clear if the mother wanted the child once she realized she was pregnant by a rapist, and the child clearly was not wanted by the rapist father. Perhaps the mother would have aborted the child had she been raped but was free to pursue an abortion—an option obviously unavailable to her here.

Either way, the only way logically to pursue aggravated murder charges for “terminating pregnancies” in this case is if the child in utero is acknowledged by law to have its own inherent right to life. I’m in favor of the law recognizing this fact, but our present laws are so confused on this foundational question.

The aggravated murder charge ought to be pursued for the same reason abortion ought not be legal in any case: because the law recognizes the inherent right to life of all human persons from the moment of conception, not because someone—whether the mother or a county prosecutor—who had the good fortune to escape the womb alive “chose.”


Categories:Abortion Law Politics Pro-Life

  • Claire Delaney

    It depends on who is calling the pregnant woman “Mother.” She is the mother of a baby that has not entered this world as yet. It is a baby!! And the baby has a “Mother” whether this baby is born or not. Simple deduction. We have a wonderful priest who invites the mothers’ of unborn babies as well as mothers’ of children who have entered this world to stand up in Church on Mother’s Day and receive a blessing. (In fact a pie is called a pie whether it’s baked or not!!!)

  • Angela

    Larry…murder much lately? The laws of this land are being mis-used / mis-applied. Either an unborn child has a right to life or not…

    • Larry

      Not so. The fetus is a part of a woman’s body. As such, all women have the right to end their own pregnancy just as all people have the right to end their own life. I know this isn’t consistant with Catholic doctrine. However, Catholic doctrine is not based on the true nature of human rights and never has been. I believe the killing of a fetus by someone other than the woman who is carrying the fetus is considered murder because no one has a right to end another person’s pregnancy without that person’s permission.

      • Cynthia

        The baby is not a “part” of her body like a kidney or other organ but a life, a living being residing within her that was created within her. By your own logic of the fetus being part of her, the murder charge would not hold up because a person is not murdering someone if they take off the person’s arm but he or she still lives because that is a part of that person as well. It is murder however, because the baby is a life within the mother.

  • Gina

    Under current law, the fetus is not considered a human being. Logically, it should not be murder if I choose to terminate the pregnancy or if an someone causes me to miscarry, a fetus is aborted. At the most, the assailant should only be charged with assault. There IS a conflict here with the law. If it is murder for an assailant to cause my fetus to abort, then it is murder for me to abort my fetus.

  • Larry

    A woman has a right to terminate her own pregnancy. No one has the right to terminate another’s pregnancy without the permission of the pregnant person. What’s so complicated about that?

    • Patrick McMunn

      Your rhetorical question misses the point of the article, Larry. Either killing a child in the womb is murder or it isn’t. Whether the act is carried out in accordance with the mother’s will or contrary to it does not change that fact.

    • Diane

      A significant percentage of “permitted” abortions are carried out on women who were pressured by the child’s father, with threats of abandonment and the like.

      • Larry

        Being pressured or not, in these cases, the woman still maintains freedom of choice. Even if she chooses to abort because of threats, it was still her decision.

    • http://CatholicVote Christine Robinson

      It is not complicated. In both cases the unborn child is a living human being therefore constitutionally has the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Making the argumant of a woman’s right to “choose” null and void. It is no ones right to take the life of another human being(inside or outside the womb)

    • SomeGuy

      Out of curiosity, says who? You speak as if this is some self-evident fact but there’s nothing to support such an arbitrary distinction.

      And, for the love of all that is good, please don’t say “the law.” Law doesn’t create rights, it protects them. What is the origin of this “right” outside the confines of words written down on paper?

      It’s interesting when people arbitrarily pull rights out of thin air. It’s the legal version of “begging the question.”

      It’s a right because it’s a right…

    • Chastity

      The complicated part is them referring to it as murder. What is there to murder if it is not yet alive? How then can this man be charged with “aggravated murder?”

    • Ellen

      That’s almost a consistent worldview for what it is, Larry, but then why would the charge be murder, i.e., someone was killed? Or any kind of homicide, for that matter? Why wouldn’t it fall under battery (the woman’s body was encroached upon), or theft (her “property” was stolen)?

    • Bob L

      Larry, “aggravated murder charges” cannot be brought unless you are murdering SOMEONE. If “terminating a pregnancy” is murder, then it is murder no matter who decides to do it or whether “pregnant person” (also known as “mothers”).

      The point is that the humanity of the baby in the womb does NOT depend on who gets to decide whether it lives or dies. That’s what “inherent” means.

      • Larry

        Women have the “inherent” right to determine when they will become mothers. God gave women that right and in the United States, that right is protected. On a sidenote, I find it interesting that a pregnant woman is never called a mother while she is pregnant with her first potential child.



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