You Are What You Eat

Indianapolis police are investigating a case of a 34 year-old woman who consumed rat poison a week before giving birth to a child who died 3 days later.   The woman could face murder or attempted feticide charges.  It is still unclear whether she was trying to harm herself or the baby. 

Should this woman be charged with any crimes if it shows the baby died as a direct result of the consumption of the poison?  If charged and convicted, what will this case do for the argument pro-abortion advocates use which makes claims to the effect of “it’s a woman’s body…”?

If the womans actions will be determined to be worthy of being charged with murder, will she be able to claim the protection of abortion laws?  Abortion is legal in every State.  Can a case be made she was exercising her right to do what she wants with her own body, in this case perform the abortion herself?  Is it only acceptable for a doctor to perform an abortion with the consent of the mother, but the mother herself cannot?I don’t know, it seems wrong to me either way.

Perhaps the argument that we (the religious pro-life groups) should not impose our beliefs on women’s bodies is not a very good reason for accepting and making legal the practice of abortion.  If charged, the State is implicitly legally refuting that argument.  In fact a woman is not free to do as she pleases with her pregnant body, apparently the State recognizes it’s not just her body.  If you feel this woman did something wrong and ought to be charged with a crime, you recognize it too.


Related Article: It’s Not So Bad


  1. Wow, I didn’t know this had occurred…what a tragic incidence. I agree with your conclusions and I think it gives us all much to think about.. And pray about..


  2. It is interesting to look at current abortion law in America. The ideas of both sides of the debate are somewhat absurd. The religious right calls anything after conception a child. The idiot left calls anything prior to bitch “part of the womans body.” Both sides are a joke in one regards or another.

    Personally, I avoid the metaphysical debate entirely. I do not know if there is a soul, but what I do know is that our brains are what define us. Hands, feet, lungs, heart, all of these things are imminently replaceable. Who we are, the thing that defines us, is our brain. A fetus develops a fully functional brain at about 4 months. If there was ever a point that indisputably defined a life as human, that is it. The arguments for late term abortion are unfathomable. Honestly, even if the life of the mother is in jeopardy, I do not support abortion beyond that point. Part of being a parent is being prepared to die for your kids.

    • Regardless of our brain, what makes us valuable is that we are human. What is not disputed medically, is at the moment the sperm enters the egg, it immediately begins process, which certainly means it is alive. The thing which is alive is undisputably human. All human life has value. Even those with un/underdeveloped brains are still human worthy of protection. If we judge value by level of development, there are many people who are years old who would not qualify to be protected.

      I find the arguments offered to allow abortion must first deny what is being aborted is human.

      • Ah, then you must equally find a tumor as human as you do a fertilized egg. And, after brain death of an adult, you must cherish each organ as living human also. Your definition of human is quite arbitrary.

        What defines us as humans and individuals is our cognition, our ability to reason and our emotions. All of these things is centered in the brain. Every single other portion of the human body is replaceable.

        • No, you are confusing the parts with the whole. The difference between a collection of cells and a living organism is the ability to act in a coordinated manner for the continued health and maintenance of the body. It is particularly this capability that stops at the point the organism dies. Dead bodies routinely have plenty of live cells, but the cells don’t function in coordination with eachother. It is not at all arbitrary.

          • This definition does not work either. By that definition, the fetus is part of the mother’s body then, since the fetus cannot survive without the mother. The fetus is not a fully functioning organism, it is more like an organ early on.

            • Again, no. The embryo is genetically unique and not a part of the mothers body, it is attached for purposes of development, but is not the same as or a part of. The child once born still cannot survive on its own without intervention, it is still part of the mother? Every newborn and on for quite some time is dependant upon another to provide food and shelter. Viability is a poor standard, as many comatose and indigent are dependant upon machines for life; are you claiming the 35 year-old car accident victim who is reliant on respirators and nourishment IVs is not human, or is a part of the machines because he requires them and cannot survive without them?

              • nope. sorry – you keep trying to refine things. ALL beings are genetically unique, so that’s irrelevant. What date is on your driver license – the day you were born or the day you were conceived?
                I thought so…

              • I was not trying to use the need of support as the criteria in general. I was pointing out that at that phase, the fetus is much more like an organ than like a human.

                Maybe try laying out what you think are the criteria for classifying something as a living human. Because, again, your loose definition is easily parsed apart. Following that path is getting us no where. What, in your mind, defines us as a living human?

                My criteria is that there is a functioning human brain. That is it. If you have one, you are a living human. If you do not, you are either dead, or not a human.

              • So before we procede, just to be clear, people who have suffered trauma to the brain with no brain function, are not human?

              • I would quantify it as no brain activity. But, yes, if someone meets the criteria of no brain activity, then I consider them dead.

              • But we aren’t talking alive or dead, we’re talking human or not human. You said brain function is what makes a person human.

              • I am confused. Are you trying to slice life and death? I consider a dead person to no longer be a person. Thus, no brain activity means brain dead which in turn means not a human.

  3. I think you can intellectualise the whole debate and discuss body parts, cells acting in a coordinated manner, but how about thinking about the woman’s mental state – she ate rat poison!!!!! come on, doesn’t that scream about how desperate she was?? I am also very irked when men discuss this issue – as you have no experience of pregnancy or birth,will never be able to experience it, and seeing as 99% of children are raised be females – how dare you tell a woman she is wrong ( and no doubt sinful) to not want to be pregnant.

    • Katie, no one said a woman is wrong to not want to be preganant, however, not wanting to be preganant is not a good enough reason to have an abortion. As a man I or any other man can certainly enter the debate. What does my gender have to do with my ability to assess the morality of taking a human life without proper justification? Would it be reasonable for someone to ask women to be absent from a debate about men raping boys, since women women can never be involved in a scenario where men rape boys? It is a very sexist objection which does not address the issue, it is a rhetorical deflection of what the debate is all about, namely ‘what is the unborn?’ The fact is we dont end the lives of todlers for the reasons women have abortions.

  4. I agree with John Barron jr, that it is sexist to claim men may not enter this discussion, so I picth my fork in it too…

    There is the same problem at the end of peoples lives also. If any living organism is human then the car crash victim with no brainfunction what so ever is a human also and doctors “pulling the plug” from them are murderers, but even in the US you do not see pro-life demonstrators out side hospitals for their sake. In my home country Finland you do not see pro-life demonstrators outside abortion clinics either. It is a universally accepted right here. It is not seen as a good thing, but a necessary one. It is commonly understood (exept for few really backwater religious types) that the best way to cut down abortions is sexual education at school and general acceptance of contraception.

    One thing however is for sure. These ratpoison eatings are going to be much more frequent events there if you yanks make abortion illegal. There are countries where abortion is illegal, but abortion by illegal mehthods is just as frequent as it is by legal methods in countries where it is legal.

    • I disagree “pulling the plug” is murder. In that case you are in essense stepping back and allowing nature to take its course. The life support is intervention, removing does not kill the person, their medical condition does. In the case of abortion, you are actively ending the persons life. Had the fetus been left undisturbed it would mature to term and be birthed and healthy. Leaving the patient undisturbed, dies of natural causes.

      • How is a brain dead person still a human? If someone is brain dead, they are dead. Is it just because they look like a person? Is it because they used to be a person?

        What is the criteria you guys use to determine that something is a living human? It seems quite arbitrary to me and no one has yet to define the criteria.

      • I am not saying “pulling the plug” is murder. I was trying to demonstrate, that difference between it and abortion is a thin line, if it even exists. What I am saying is, that when a movement is called “pro-life” one would expect them to be against all kinds of endings of lives. But it seems, that the prime motivator in that movement is actually only the abortion. Are those people doing something to promote sexual education and general acceptance for contraseption? That would be something concrete to lessen the number of abortions.

        Is an unborn fetus actually a person? In any case it is a less of a person than a born infant and the difference should be a clear one. In my wiev abortion is a necessary process in modern society. It may be essentially wrong as killing a human being is, but since the conditions of society around it make it the lesser of two evils, it should be tolerated. It is like the army. A movement called “pro-life” could just as well be demonstrating outside military compounds, because killing is inherently wrong. As you know the soldiers (especially artillery and bomber crews) may well be ending the lives of innocents, even pregnant mothers and their unborn. Military is however seen universally acceptable part of human society. Alltough some nations seem to have more agressive military than others… When lines are drawn on what kind of killing is inherently wrong and what wrongs we accept as a part of society? Abortion is not the greatest wrong, that may be and is accepted, and allowing it lessens a lot of other and even worse injustices. Certainly it lessens the cases where a woman is brought to the hospital for eating rat poison. Of course one would hope we will have a future where doctors do not have to make choises like wether or not to pull the plug, a future where no nation needs armies for their homeland defence, or a future where no woman will become pregnant unless they actually wanted to.

        • I addressed your concern that you thought there was a similarity to pulling the plug and abortion in my latest article, One of These Things is Not Like The Others. The situations are fundamentally different.

          Whether you believe there may be greater injustices by allowing babies to be born does not remove the wrong that is done by taking an innocent life. We dont get to kill infants and todlers for the reasons women get abortions. But if the reasons women provide for having the abortion is a valid reason, then we should also be able to kill todlers.

          I also think you hit the thrust of the pro-abortion argument. unborn babies must be dehumanized in order to justify taking their life. If you think personhood develops, you must be absolutely sure when and how it develops. For instance, the rejoinder “we don’t know when personhood obtains” then we aren’t justified in taking the life. If there were a person-shaped canvas in the road, wriggling around, are you justified in running it over because you don’t know if someone is inside? I don’t think so. I think you are under obligation to avoid hitting the person shaped canvas unless you are sure it is not someone inside. In the same way unless you are absolutely sure a fetus is not a person you have no justification to kill it; and to know for sure, you must be able to identify when and how a fetus transitions into a person.

          • You are addressing the question on a rhetorical level. On practical level judging womens legal right to abort pregnancy before it has developed into an actual human being and even questioning its morality, you are promoting these self induced “abortions” and suiside attempts. You are also promoting infantiside, because those are the results of illegalising abortion.

            As to your anecdote, If the canvas is on an autobahn and the evasive manuevere would lead your car to an opposing lane and your car is full of people, you will have to make a choise between saving the human shaped canvas or those actual humans who are the passangers in your car and many other cars moving alongside you and towards you. Which do you choose?

            If you actually want to reduce abortions, do something to promote sexual education and universal acceptance of contraception. That is the only practical way.

            • “Into an actual human being” is exactly the issue. What is the evidence the fetus is not human? Science and biology show it is human, and it is alive. Do we legalize robbery if all of a sudden potential robbers start committing suicide? What about legalizing wife beating because sometimes a man may want to hit his wife but fears it might be wrong, so instead he jumps off a bridge? The argument doesnt work. We dont legalize something to make it easier on the one doing something wrong. Unfortunately that is what has happened with abortion.

              Your scenario adjustment is more equivalent to abortion in the case where the mother’s life is in danger. That is a different scenario than what is the norm. The norm is abortions are performed for the convenience of the mother. So the equivalent would be driving at 25 mph with a wide open road and not feeling like braking or turing the wheel.

              Or people could wait to have sex until they are ready to have children. Why is reducing sexual activity not an option? Adoption is an option as well. Why must the child’s life be taken?

              • You may call the fetus human. But that is putting sematics against all the impacts the pregnancy and a child will have to the could be mothers life. Under half way pregnancy fetus is not an actual person on any level. However, women do not generally take it lightly to have a pregnancy aborted. Actually the Guttmacher institute statistics you published in “One of these things is not like the others” go a long way to prove that. That is, if you can read statistics and see that the reasons in the list are cumulative.

                There are societies that try to controll peoples sexual liberty, like the Taliban and political priesthood of Iran. These attempts to controll sexuality usually only end up in tragic examples of oppressing the women. Personally I prefer more liberal kind of government. Even if you only expect people in general to have more responsibility of their sexuality, then sexuality is something that needs to be explained to them. If they think babies come via storch and down the chimney, the “nature will take its course” and they find out about the truth the hard way.

                On a practical level there are something like over a million abortions every year in the US alone. Adoption is a nice thought, but where are all these kids going to be adopted to? If abortion would be illegal, what would be the proper punishment for having one? Prisonment? I heard you allready have a problem of having such a great persentage of US population in prison.

                I would like to quote one of my favourite philosophers here: “Do not judge, so you would not be judged your selves.”

              • What is the basis for claiming through the first half of a pregnancy a fetus is not a person in any way? It is something you continually re-assert, I’d like you to offer evidence for that. You certainly couldn’t conclude that just by the reasons women give for why they have abortions.

                Who thinks babies come from storks? No one. Sexual intercourse is the ONLY activity which produces a child. Even people un undeveloped countries know this.

                You are quoting Jesus out of context here. Jesus’ admonishment was against hypocritical judgement, not simply making moral assessments on other’s behaviors.

              • The legal systems and medical professionals of almost every western country have come to the conclusion that the fetus is not a person in medical or in legal terms at least not before half way through pregnancy when it starts to develop actual brainfunctions. Why do you think this is their professional opinion? Do you have some knowledge about the matter they did not have when they made this desicion?

                So, because all the people in the world inherently know how babies are produced, there should be no sexual education? Are people born with this knowledge? Is that really your opinion, or am I somehow missreading you?

                The pro-life movement is hypocritically judging women who have abortions, when the movement is trying to illegalize abortion, since they clearly have not assested the dramatic results of such a legal change would have. They are also hypocritical to have chosen this one particular form of killing from the social and cultural structure as their target, despite the fact the name of the movement would demand a wider wiev of such questions within society. To claim women having abortions are making that choise lightly as a norm is also hypocritical, since even as the statistics you yourself published in “One of these is not the same as others” prove, is not the case at all. It is hypocritical to judge women who are making this most often wery difficult desicion about their lives and often enough in a wery difficult situation. So, I think this is just the right conversation and well within the context for the quote.

              • legal systems in the US as well as medical professionals have made no such determination. In fact those in the legislature and medical fields disagree with each other, are you under the impression that because abortion is legal that there is some legal and medical consensus, there isn’t.

                My point is people know how children are concieved, it is not a surprise. It seems that instead of people curbing the behavior which leads to pregnancy, they seek to rid themselves of the consequence, the baby.

                I’m sorry, but if you want to claim abortion is a very weighty issue, and a decision not made lightly, you have lost your argument. If what is being aborted is not a person, if you really believe you are not taking a human life, then why is the decision so weighty? It wasn’t a difficult decision for me to have my wisdom teeth removed, if a fetus is not a person, it’s not different than just another growth, what’s the problem why is it such a difficult decision?

                Nothing you offered is hypocritical.

  5. There must have been some consensus to pass the legistlature. In a democracy not everybody has to be on the same side, but a clear majority is usually needed to make something legal. I hear this is so in the US, as it is in other democracies. About moral questions there will always be debate, but in due democratic process, it is decided what are the common rules. In a democracy it is your right and the right of the pro-life movement, to protest about this.

    You would offer selibacy as means of birthcontrol? A revolutionary idea, not yet tested anywhere in larger scale, only in the confines of monasteries and among the catholic priesthood (and not allways succesfull even among those devoted people). No, I am not saying that abortion should be a means of birthcontrol, but there should be that possibility open, if your chosen method of birthcontrol did not function. Children are valuable, fragile things and they should not be brought to the world lighthly.

    Did I loose my argument? Where did it go? The world is not black and white. There are a lot of gray shades in it too. We usually do not take lightly the life of any living thing. Not even an animal, especially a pet, but neither do we usually think twice about ordering a stake. The fact that the fetus is not yet a person has nothing to do with the fact that even aborting its life, which has actually not yet even started, is not taken lightly. Women having an abortion are aware that the fetus could develope into an actual human being, even if they could not see it as a person yet.

    I understand your concern. There is something that seems wrong to you in the world, and you would want to make it better, but pouring guilt on the women who have to make a desicion about their lives and the lives of their possible offspring is in deed hypocritical. It is as hypocritical as calling a soldier a murderer.

    • It wasn’t decided in a legislature, it was decided in a court by 7 judges. Just 7 people decided it was ok. It wasn’t a democracy.

      You continue to declare a fetus is not a person without presenting an argument for it. Making an appeal to law is not an argument. Additionally, since you are so fond of science, biologists confirm the fetus is alive at conception and it is human at conception, so let’s abandon “its life has actually not yet started” yes it has.

      You’re damn right I’m pouring guilt. Women who have abortions should feel guilty. And you know what, they do. Because deep down they know what is happening. It is shown that women suffer considerable mental stress, not from others pouring guilt on them, but rather for what it is they had done.

      You know as well as I do soldiers on a battle field is an entirely different matter than abortion, let that go, you are grasping at straws.

      • Well, I must say, that I’ve allways had my doubts about the US being an actual democracy, but that is of course a nother matter. There are however a number of countries around the world, that have made the abortion legal after democratic representatives have heard the opinion of medical professionals. That includes almost all the European countries excluding Ireland, where the representatives were more interrested to hear what the catholic church had to say. So, this makes law an argument as well as the opinion of the medical professionals who were heard in the process. Oh, by the way there are almost the same number of abortions made by irishwomen per capita as there are in the neighbouring country Britain where it is legal. The irish rich women travel abroad to have their abortion and the poor, if they can not afford the foreign trip, have it in a multitude of less professional ways. Promoting that is hypocritical to say the least.

        An egg may be alive inside, but it is not a bird yet. A chick is a bird, though it can not fly yet.

        In my opinion the women having to decide wether or not to have an abortion should not be put under any more stress, that they are allready experiencing, or it will inevitably lead to more women eating rat poison. The majority of women having an abortion were under stress or pressure in their lives allready before their pregnancy, as the Guttmacher instute revenue statistics clearly show in your post “One of these is not the same as the others”. Those are the many reasons why they are having an abortion. It is immoral and hypocritical to put even more pressure on them, with what they are allready experiencing.

        If one is to condemn women for having abortions purely on the moral issue of taking a life, then a soldier on a battle field, or in a bomber cockpit, or a general at his HQ should be condemned with the same singular conviction. This is not a “straw”, it is a point I have tried to make all along. There are certain situations in which the society accepts the taking of a life. Some are more brutal and some more clinical then the others. What it all boils down to, is that the abortion is a lot less ethically suspicious act, then say, invading a foreign country. In an abortion the woman decides what is best for her and wether or not it is time to bring new life into the world. She decides to abort the life of the fetus before it has grown to have any experience of the surrounding world, before it has developed any personality exept the genes it has borrowed from its parents. That is exactly why it is called an abortion. In an invasion the attacking army and its soldiers are both directly and indirectly responsible of ending lives that belong to people. Lives of fully developed living personas, both children and adults, that have their personality and emotional connections to the surrounding world and other people. Most of those who die are typically completely innocent for the reasons of the invasion.

        Yes, the world would be a lot easier to grasp, if one could divide all actions simply as good or evil, but alas it is not like that. Is it?

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