Fetal homicide laws essentially admit abortion is murder

Currently, a multitude of states have laws punishing what is described as fetal homicide. Essentially, if a person (un)intentionally causes the death of a fetus they can be charged with murder or manslaughter just as if it had been a post-birth human being.  The only exception is if the mother commissions the death via an abortion doctor.

What effect do fetal homicide laws have on arguments people use to defend abortion?

It seems these laws create seemingly confused consequences. Take for example a situation where a woman is on her way to have an abortion and she is in a car accident where her baby dies. If the other driver is at fault for the collision, he can be charged with a crime whereas the doctor who was about to do the very same thing but with surgical tools is protected by law…unless he was the driver who killed the baby.

If fetal homicide laws don’t make any considerations as to the nature of what it is that’s inside the womb, doesn’t that imply that the state knows that killing a pre-born human being is morally wrong?


  1. It plays into the pro-choice argument that a fetus is only a baby if the mother wants it to be.

    Canada’s criminal code contradicts itself in a couple of places, defining the fetus and a non-person in one area, but referring to the fetus as an unborn child with rights in another.

    Our Supreme Court didn’t exactly clear it up with this ruling. http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/03/can-a-child-die-before-it-is-born/

  2. Can you cite the specific law that shows that the unintentional killing of a fetus in-utero is a chargeable offense? I tried to look this up, but all I came up with were laws protecting a woman’s rights – not necessarily the fetus’.

  3. The nature of the fetus needs to be debated and decided.

    I don’t know anyone on the pro-choice side who wouldn’t have someone prosecuted for killing someone else’s fetus. But if we were forced to have the debate, knowing that either abortion would be banned or no one would be prosecuted for manslaughter or murder for killing someone else’s fetus, I doubt that they would ever admit that the fetus is a living human individual with basic rights. They’re just that staunch about “reproductive rights”.

  4. First, let’s stop giving anti-lifers credit they don’t deserve. Fact is, Fetal Homicide Laws are an issue of contention in every legislative house in which they’ve been debated. Anti-lifers denounce them because granting legal personhood to unborn children is a dangerous endeavor in a nation that relies so heavily on legal precedent.

    The A.C.L.U. says of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act:

    The ACLU fully supports efforts to punish acts of violence against women that harm or terminate a wanted pregnancy. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is an inappropriate method of imposing such punishment, however, because it dangerously seeks to separate the woman from her fetus in the eyes of the law….

    By creating a separate offense for injury to a fetus, this bill attempts to endow the fetus with legal rights distinct from the woman who has been injured. This legislation would thus dramatically alter the existing legal framework by elevating the fetus to an unprecedented status in federal law….

    This bill ignores the unity between the pregnant woman and the fetus she carries. Penalty enhancements appropriately punish criminal behavior while embracing that unity.


  5. John,

    Exactly. And you see my point is that anti-lifers don’t care a lick about the fetus. All they care about is whether the pregnancy (keyword) is “wanted.” To say, “[T]hey care about the fetus so long as…” is completely inaccurate. The fetus matters not. And isn’t that disgusting?

    • There is an intentional attempt to disguise what pregnancy is. They medicalize the term, medicalize the baby, basically anything they can do to remove any connection between what is in the womb in cold scientific terms and what we know it is: a baby.

      It’s OK to terminate a pregnancy, remove fetal tissue, or eliminate an unwanted mass. But taking the life of a pre-born human baby is to be avoided at all costs.

  6. Yep. Further evidence they don’t really care about the child. It’s a show. To keep up appearances, they pretend to care – but in truth they couldn’t care less. These are the same type of people who advocate forced sterilization to “control population” and infanticide.

    Many start out quite moderate in their views, but slowly they lose their humanity as they further involve themselves in anti-life circles. When I first started on Wordpres I couldn’t believe the crap anti-lifers were spouting on their blogs. It was too extreme, I thought, to be real…

  7. I read that page you linked to. I don’t get that a person who causes a car collision would or even would be charged with feticide unless some malice occurred. At any rate, TerranceH is correct that these laws are geared toward the rights of the mother, not necessarily the unborn fetus.

    I don’t like abortion and I wish that everyone who got pregnant was well-suited to handle pregnancy and/or giving birth and/or raising a child. But they aren’t. I look around and some of the people who do have children probably should not have. Having an abortion is not a thing that I think I would do, but I’ve never been in a position to have to think about such things. But I also don’t think it’s my business to tell someone else what is right or good for them. While I don’t like abortion I defend the right of another to do that. I don’t believe it’s a decision most people take lightly.

    • When someone is deemed at fault for an accident they are liable for any death. Its usually manslaughter. If I run a stop sign, or even swerve inyo your lane, and it causes you to crash and you or your baby die, I am responsible for the death in any state. Its not going to list in the homicide statute ‘or car crash’.

    • Do you feel the same about slavery or child abuse or spousal abuse? That you wouldnt personally do it but you dont think you should tell others they cant? Why or why not?

    • And Ruth, if I may ask, why dont YOU personally not like abortion?

      • I personally don’t like abortion because I have wanted a baby for a very long time and haven’t been able to do that. So what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t have an abortion.

        Maybe like is the wrong word. It’s not a thing to like or not like. It just is. It’s not a choice I would make.

    • ” While I don’t like abortion I defend the right of another to do that. ”

      Ruth, others have already answered you quite thoroughly, and pointed out the massive holes in your argument already.

      There was a time in my life when I thought as you did. While I, personally, disapproved of abortion and would not have one, who was I do make that decision for someone else? After all, I didn’t know their circumstances, and who knows; it might be the “right” decision for them.

      The obvious problem with that is that a baby is a baby, regardless of location, so I shifted to the “viability” argument. Once the fetus has developed to the point of viability, then aborting it before it reached that point might be all right, but not after. Then I realized just how silly that argument is, too. What define’s “viability?” That line has changed dramatically as medical technology improves.

      So then I thought about when the developing fetus became “alive” as an individual, with its own heart beat and brain waves. Well, that didn’t make sense either. Partly because technology has allowed us to measure those markers from the very beginning, and they start before a lot of women even know they are pregnant.

      Which put me face to face with the obvious problem. When is a developing fetus “alive” as an individual. There is only one answer to that. At conception. That is the moment when a genetically unique individual comes into existance. That the individual is just a single cell is irrelevant. That cell constitutes an entire, unique human being.

      On looking back and the various arguments given to defend abortion – about how a woman shouldn’t be forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy, for example – all of them become weak and useless. Unless…

      There is only one way to defend abortion as a “right” for a woman, and that is by devaluing the life of another person; the developing fetus. Some do it by denying the developing fetus its very humanity, and redefining it as “tissue” or “a blog of cells”, no different than fingernail clippings. Medically ridiculous and intellectually dishonest, but common. The other defense is more honest, yet more horrific, and that is to state that the mother’s desire to NOT be pregnant has more value than the human being developing within her. A human life becomes less valuable simply because of its stage of development and its location.

      If I were to value life in general, the destruction of a life because it is inconvenient – no matter how emotionally difficult that might be – cannot be acceptable. (Note: I am not including triage, where the life of the mother and/or baby is at risk and one must be sacrificed to save the other; that is a completely different – and rare – situation that can only be dealt with on an individual basis)

      If I were to value human life specifically, the idea that anyone can end a pregancy, even before viability, because they don’t want it becomes impossible to defend. A person’s desires or the difficulties of their circumstances cannot trump a human life. To do so rips open a cesspool of horror that we’ve seen time and again throughout human history. Once human life is devalued in one area, there is no stopping it from being devalued in other areas. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2432620/Hitlers-Furies-The-Nazi-women-bit-evil-men.html is a story that exemplifies it, but the same thing happened during the eras of Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot and others, and exists today in North Korea and China, as well as any country that has legalized euthanasia, where now the elderly are now afraid to be hospitalized out of fear they will be euthanisized, and where doctors euthanize infants without bothering to consult with the parents. On a more personal note, this devaluing of life had my parents witness incredible attrocities committed by people who were once their friends and neighbours. My father, a youth during WWII, described seeing Ukranian soldiers – local men who joined the Nazi’s – drag a man and his pregnant wife out of their house, tie them to trees, then cut open their bellies, removing the fetus from the woman and inserting it into her husband’s body.

      And they laughed while doing it.

      These were people they knew. These were their neighbours.

      This is what happens when life is devalued.

      What it basically comes down to is this. Either I value human life or not. If I value human life, then I cannot defend any argument for elective abortion. The only way to accept elective abortion is by believing that the wants, desires and conveniences of one group of people is more imporant than the life of a developing human. No. If I value human life, then the life of a developing human MUST be defended more so than any other life, because it is uniquely innocent and helpless.

  8. Ruth,

    Personally, I don’t like rape. But I will defend the right of another to do it. I don’t believe it’s a decision most people take lightly…

    Your logic, as I’ve shown, is hilariously flawed. Abortion takes the life of an actual human being. It is nothing short of murder; it’s just not called that by our equally flawed justice system.

  9. If what you’re getting at is whether or not I believe life begins at conception, the answer to that is, no, I do not.

    • You dont believe life begins at conception even though it is a medical fact?

      • There is a lot of debate about that medical “fact. What is debatable is whether that “life” is a person.

        • No, it is an undesputed medical fact that a human being’s life begins at conception. The idea of personhood being some prerequisite only occurs when someone wants an abortion.

          I noticed you veered. You said you believe mother should have the choice to kill their babies even though you would do it. Why is that?

          • Because I want a baby. Obviously, for many varied and sensitive reasons, others may not.

          • No, that is not an undisputed medical fact. If it were we wouldn’t be having this discussion. You have chosen to view and believe only the medical research that confirms your bias. We all do that.

            One cell on your arm is a human cell. It is a living organism, but if it were cut from your arm, you wouldn’t consider it murder. A fetus is a mass of human cells. It is not an undisputed fact that it is a human being, yet.

            • Ummm. No. Please cite me any embryology textbook or embryologist who doesnt affirm human life begins at conception.

              One skin cell or othwr cell is not a whole. That is a part of a whole. A fertilized egg is a genetically complete, but not mature, human being. This isnt true for a part of a whole.

              Youre just assuming what scientists say. They say the opposite of what youre saying.

              • I think that we could debate back and forth about whether a fetus is a human being or not until the cows come home. You, obviously, believe it is when the sperm fertilizes the egg. I do not.

                Would you, then, like for laws to be passed that make the killing of any embryo in any situation equal to capital murder?

              • Well, since its a scientific fact that at conception a new human being’s life begins, I think the penalties that apply to the unjustified taking of human life should be apllied.

                Should I take the persistent changing of the subject to mean that you Will not investigate what the field of embryology has to say on this issue? I get the impression that if you indeed did find out you were mistaken about when human life begins, it wouldnt change your view on abortion. You are in fact pro abortion and nothing, not even medical facts will change that.

                Thats the epitome of dogmatism.

  10. Do you feel the same about slavery or child abuse or spousal abuse? That you wouldnt personally do it but you dont think you should tell others they cant? Why or why not?

    No, I don’t. But that would be because you and I disagree about the definition of a human being or person.

  11. I get the impression that if you indeed did find out you were mistaken about when human life begins, it wouldnt change your view on abortion. You are in fact pro abortion and nothing, not even medical facts will change that.

    I’ve changed my mind about many things and am currently changing my mind about things that I once believed or thought to be true, so no, that is not the case. I’m not pro-abortion, neither am I anti-abortion. I am currently researching a lot of these topics to formulate my own opinion. I think there is a lot of gray area with regard to this and this is a sensitive subject for obvious reasons.

    I have not presumed so much as to tell you what you think. I’d appreciate the same courtesy.

    • Its difficult for me not to conclude what I have about your view when you make false claims about what the biological sciences say about when a human beings life begins, and then say you dont agree with actual scientific facts, and so think mothers should have the right to end the life of their inutero child.

      • That is medical fact according to you, not necessarily science, as I demonstrated. Look, we are all subject to confirmation bias. You have researched this and only accept scientific data that supports your own bias. Pot meet kettle.

  12. Lastly, I would say, that among the scientific community it is debated whether life begins at fertilization, or when there is brain activity. There is debate about that among people who have been born. Is a human being who is brain-dead alive or dead. Just because you can hook a person up to feeding tubes and breathing machines doesn’t mean you should.

  13. Ruth,

    You are greatly misinformed. I don’t know what sort of anti-life blogs you’ve been perusing, but John is absolutely right: human life begins at conception. Don’t believe me?

    Fertilization is a sequence of events that begins with the contact of a sperm (spermatozoon) with a secondary oocyte (ovum) and ends with the fusion of their pronuclei (the haploid nuclei of the sperm and ovum) and the mingling of their chromosomes to form a new cell. This fertilized ovum, known as a zygote, is a large diploid cell that is the beginning, or primoridum, of a human being.

    Moore, Keith L. Essentials of Human Embryology. Toronto: B.C. Decker Inc, 1988, p. 2 

    How about another?

    The development of a human beings with fertilization a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote. 

    Sadler, T.W. Langman’s Medical Embryology. 7th edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins 1995, p.3 

    Satisified? No? Okay.

    Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote). The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.

    Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New Yorkl McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3 

    Okay, so we’ve established…Wait. What’s that you say? You STILL don’t believe me? Okay.

    Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed.

    O’Rahilly, Ronan and Muler, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, p. 8. 

    Okay, so now…Ugh. How many more do you want?

    Zygote. This cell, formed by the union of an ovum and a sperm  represents the beginning of a human being. The common expression ‘fertilized ovum’ refers to the zygote. 

    Moore, Keith L. and Persaud, T.V.N. Before We Are Born: Essentials of Embryology and Birth Defects. 4th edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1993, p. 1

    Is that enough? If not, I could go on because, as John said, NO CREDIBLE DOCTOR, EMBRYOLOGIST, BIOLOGIST, OR INFORMED PERSON would dispute this immutable fact. Support abortion if you so choose, but with a full understanding and appreciation of the facts.

    And ya know what, just so we’re clear…

    Dr. Micheline Matthews-Roth, Harvard Medical School.

    “It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive. It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception. Our laws, one function of which is to help preserve the lives of our people, should be based on accurate scientific data.”


    Dr. Jerome LeJeune, professor of genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris

    “After fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being. [It] is no longer a matter of taste or opinion; it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning, at conception.”


    Professor Hymie Gordon, Mayo Clinic,

    “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.”

    Dr. Watson A. Bowes, University of Colorado Medical School,

    “The beginning of a single human life is from a biological point of view a simple and straightforward matter – the beginning is conception.”


    Professor Ashley Montague, Geneticist,

    “The basic fact is simple: life begins not at birth, but conception.”


    Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania,

    “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception. I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.”

    Not only that, you should have been able to settle this by yourself with logic. Since when is humanity something achieved or attained? Since when is it anything other than an innate quality? NEVER. Human development isn’t a magical process whereby people switch back and forth from non-human to human until birth. No. We go through stages of development. Our development as human beings begins the moment of conception and doesn’t end until natural death. It’s a continuous process of development, not a magical leap at different points.

    Also, your whole bit about arm cells is the stupidest thing I’ve heard this week. You’re comparing PART of a human being to a full-fledged human being, for crying out loud. The facts are simple. The zygote’s genetic composition is undeniably human and distinct from any other person in all of human history. That person’s hair color, eye color, and much of its personality is set in stone the moment conception occurs. Like all human beings, it is unique to itself, and if left alone, its life will be a continual developmental process that proceeds through birth, childhood, puberty, adolescence, adulthood, aging, and finally death.

    Lastly, like most abortion defenders, you may accept the “technical science” but imagine some difference between “human being” and “person.” This argument is unscientific by nature. It is a subjective opinion based on one’s own moral and political philosophy. With ease, anyone could formulate an arbitrary requisite to personhood that precludes millions of people. History bears the cruel reality of this tactic. In early America, black people did not qualify as “persons” because of their skin color. They were property without the legal protection of “personhood,” and nothing more.

    You want to debate abortion? Fine. Do it within these parameters. Facts are facts. And, no, we won’t “agree to disagree.” You’re wrong. PERIOD.

  14. And don’t even bother coming back with some nonsense about brain activity. People who are born and experience brain death actually experience, ya know, brain death! That is not the case with unborn human beings, as their brains are not dead, but very much alive and developing…

    I think your “measuring stick” is broken.

  15. Ruth seems to be pretty genuine. I just think that she’s hung up on whether the pregnancy is wanted.

    She wouldn’t have an abortion because she wants a baby. If she got pregnant, she would protect and value the fetus inside her womb because, though what it would be at that time is not what she thinks is a human being, she values what it will become. And that’s good! She should protect her apple tree sapling if she values its future state: an apple producing tree. Right?

    Why then is not every fetus worthy of her consideration? More importantly, why isn’t it clear to her that only certain things can be later what she will eventually value?

    To be clear, I’m not saying that we should value a fetus for its future usefulness, like an apple tree. I’m saying that what it is now is what it will be (not become) later. A human fetus is not future offspring. An apple tree sapling is not a future member of its species. They are exactly what they are as they exist.

  16. John Barron
    I know you thought I was not going to come back to respond at this point. Either I’d forgotten or that I was just blowing off your question. I haven’t forgotten. It’s actually been on my mind since we had this discussion. At first I was going to respond that people who are brain-dead are dismembered frequently. I am an organ donor. When I die or if I am ever declared brain-dead I will, in some way, be dismembered. Families make this excruciating decision all the time for their brain-dead loved ones.

    Then I realized the fallacy of that argument.

    Then I began to research what embryologists have to say on the subject. I’ve been researching embryologists’ as well as neurologists’ findings. Though I’m not certain why that makes any difference. What I mean by that is, I don’t think we needed an embryologist to tell us that life begins with a fertilized egg. Did we not already know that once an egg is fertilized and implanted that, more times than not, it will grow? Isn’t growth an indicator of life?

    You remarked that I am pro-abortion. That I most certainly am not, nor have I ever been. Were I pro-abortion I would be telling everyone how wonderful abortion is and how everyone should get one. You’ve conflated my ideology that individuals should have autonomy and people(in this case women) should be able to make their own decisions with me having some sort of agenda that would eliminate the human race.

    Having said all that, I am rethinking my position on this(sorry to soil your impression). Individual autonomy is great. The problem is when one becomes pregnant there are then two individuals.Is it a question of personhood? At what point, if not at conception, does a fetus become a person? Is it only when they’ve been born and breathed air?

    Your point about whose rights trumps whose is compelling. Is one of these individual’s rights more important than the other?

    I am an atheist. But I am also a humanist. As a humanist and as such value the agency of all human beings. The great and the small. As a result of that I would say that I am pro-life. How that looks, though, may differ from a traditional black and white – this is right and that is wrong – approach.

    • Ruth

      I have to praise your willingness to be teachable. What I mean is many people, myself included in some areas, believe we are so correct that we wont even consider that we might be mistaken.

      Your honesty is refreshing and im glad that I may have been a part of you reconsidering your view!

      Thanks for being open minded, and im sorry for any barrier I might have put up with my choices of words.

  17. TerranceH
    “You want to debate abortion? Fine. Do it within these parameters. Facts are facts. And, no, we won’t “agree to disagree.” You’re wrong. PERIOD.”

    I wasn’t here to debate abortion. I was here to get a better understanding and to have, what I thought might be, productive conversation. Apparently you do a lot of debating, and I understand that this is a sensitive and extremely divisive, yet important subject and that passions run high. I also understand that there are some pro-choicers out there who are narrow minded and and wouldn’t even consider any of the many fine points you made so maybe that’s why you reacted the way you did to my thoughts. You can be right the wrong way. You’re rude. PERIOD.

  18. conservative2cents and Kunoichi

    Simply, thank you.

  19. Ruth,

    I wasn’t aware you were here as an independent learner. You said to John,

    “No, that is not an undisputed medical fact. If it were we wouldn’t be having this discussion. You have chosen to view and believe only the medical research that confirms your bias. We all do that.

    One cell on your arm is a human cell. It is a living organism, but if it were cut from your arm, you wouldn’t consider it murder. A fetus is a mass of human cells. It is not an undisputed fact that it is a human being, yet.”

    This doesn’t sound like something an open-minded, undecided individual would say. It perfectly mirrors the arguments we see from hardcore pro-choicers who absolutely refuse to look at this issue objectively. They berate pro-lifers and lump us all in with the likes of Pat Robertson. I don’t apologize to people like that because they’re not worthy of respect.

    Your most recent comments gave me a better idea about you. And so, I apologize for my rudeness. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding abortion and our pro-life reasoning.

    Lastly, given your theological beliefs (or lack thereof), I think it might be important to mention that atheist author Christopher Hitchens was pro-life. If you change your mind, you’d be in good company.

  20. TerranceH,

    As I said to John Barron, I can see how you might have thought that, but my mama always taught me it’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.

    Some of the things I said were pro-choice, but I berated no one, and certainly didn’t lump anyone in with Pat Robertson(yikes!). But then, as I also said to John, I do realize that some people are making comments and going back and forth just for the sake of the argument. They know that they know that they know they’re right. I’m all for breaking the stereotype.

  21. Well, if you have any questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them if I can. And stick around. Atheists are welcome here too!

  22. Thanks, TerranceH


  1. […] Fetal homicide laws essentially admit abortion is murder (siftingreality.com) […]

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