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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » 'No charges in fetus death'

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Author Topic: 'No charges in fetus death'
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A Toronto woman was stabbed by her husband a few days ago. She was seven months pregnant. Both mom and fetus died. Understandably, the family feels as though they have lost two lives, but is this enough to bring legal charges?

According to Canadian law (unlike American law), it's not. The husband has been charged with only one count of murder.

I think Martha Shaffer sums it up perfectly (quoted from the news article); "I can see how people may feel a wrong here has been committed and is not being addressed. But I think it's a dangerous slope if we say a fetus is a separate person ... Ultimately, we don't deal with a pregnant woman as two people."


[ 10-04-2007, 11:34 AM: Message edited by: LilBlueSmurf ]

Posts: 7168 | From: Ontario | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I've personally always been creeped out when a person is prosecuted to a greater extent if the woman they happen to assault/murder happens to be pregnant. Like that quote said there, I think it lies in counting a pregnant woman as two people that sits badly with me.

BUT, on the other hand, 7 months is fairly far along to where the fetus could possibly survive outside the womb, and abortion is not done for ethical reasons past a certain point. So.. I don't know, I'm a bit divided. I'm sure it hurts the family to lose both their loved one and the baby she was carrying and does feel like two deaths, but I can't help but think it trivializes the violent assault of women in general to impose greater punishment for assault of a woman who is pregnant.

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In one of the bests essays I read about the 'ethicality' (my dictionary says it's a word, but I'm not so sure) of abortion, the focus was put on identity and subjectivity:

A fetus is a person when it is given (primarily by the pregnant woman) a personality, a person to-be identity. It is a baby when it is treated as a baby, perceived as a baby, etc.

To me this means a fetus is a baby after the woman chooses to have it. If I apply this logic to the case, I'd presume that yes, that fetus had a separate identity, which would give it a 'baby' status.

The legality of the whole thing is still a very dangerous zone, though, so I'm not particulary against the ruling. But I think this logic is a good framework to think about it a case like this.

Or, going more extreme: think violent parnter/parent attacks pregnant woman (who had decided to keep the pregnancy and is anxioulsy waiting for s/he to be born) and kills the fetus. Where does choice go there?

Anyway... Just in case anyone is able/interested to check it out, the essay I was talking about is in an Italian book called 'Oltre il femminismo' by Claudia Mancina. I read it over 3 years ago and in a foreign language, so this is the main idea I got from it, but I can't really vouch for its fidelity to the original.

Posts: 4 | From: Buenos Aires | Registered: Feb 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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