Wednesday, October 20, 2010

40 Days, and strange laws

Did you hear about this? Amazing:

An attempted-murder charge against a man accused of trying to force his girlfriend to have an abortion appears to be the first case of its kind in Franklin County.

"I am not aware of a previous case that is similar to the facts in this case," Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said yesterday in an e-mail to The Dispatch.

Dominic L. Holt-Reid, 28, of Kelton Avenue on the Near East Side, will be arraigned today on the attempted-murder charge, as well as two counts of kidnapping and one count each of improper handling of a firearm in a motor vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon and having a weapon despite a 2007 drug conviction.

Holt-Reid was arrested Oct. 6 after police say he pointed a handgun at Yolanda Burgess, 26, and forced her to drive to an East Side abortion clinic for a scheduled appointment after she told him she didn't want to go through with the procedure. [...]

"He is charged with attempted murder for the attempt at gunpoint to force her to have an abortion against her will," O'Brien wrote.

"The (state) murder statute was amended a few years back to prohibit 'unlawful termination of a pregnancy' in order to avoid the debate whether an unborn fetus is a 'person' under the law.

"I have tried homicides where the murder victim was pregnant, and we were able to charge and convict for two counts, but this case is the first under these kinds of facts."

So, if Yolanda Burgess had entered that clinic and had the abortion under mere pressure and vague threats from her boyfriend, that would be a perfectly legal "termination of pregnancy,"; but because she entered that clinic after being forced at gunpoint to go there, her boyfriend can be charged with attempted murder--not for pulling a gun on her, but for the attempt to force her to have an abortion.

This incident betrays the strangeness of our laws concerning abortion. A pregnant woman is carrying a baby who can be harmed or even murdered--provided she wants the baby. A pregnant woman is carrying a fetus, embryo, "blob of tissue" or "product of conception" who can not be harmed or murdered--just legally "terminated"--provided she doesn't want the baby.

The child lives or dies at the whim of his or her mother. His or her whole status as a valued member of human society depends solely upon his mother's feelings about his or her existence.

It is not unexpected, then, that fathers of children would start to believe that this situation is vastly, grotesquely unfair. The mother of his child can decide to kill the baby and let him entirely off the hook--or she can decide to have the baby and force him to pay child support for the next eighteen years, which is a pretty steep price for a man to pay for what was supposed to be consequence-free sex. It's no wonder that so many men coerce, threaten, cajole, etc. their children's mothers into abortion.

But when the threats of leaving her don't work, and the threats of other, more dire consequences don't work, and when, perhaps, even violence doesn't work, perhaps it's only logical for a man to decide that his next step is to force the woman at gunpoint to keep the appointment set up for her to eliminate this problem. I'm sure that from the point of view of the perpetrator of this act, he was only exercising his right to choose--to choose not to become a father.

In reality, the choice to become parents is implied in the choice to engage in reproductive activity; in saner days, laws reflected that reality. Now, though, we have a highly unequal and unjust situation in which women get to choose whether to keep or kill their unborn babies--but men have no say whatsoever. Abortion puts men and women at war with each other over the continued existence of a person both of them should be willing to protect at all costs--their child.

1 comment:

Siarlys Jenkins said...

Oh yes, I think being forced at gun point is quite different from walking in voluntarily after a sharp argument. I suspect this will be settled by withdrawal of the homicide charge, since the remaining charges are certainly good for a 40 year plus sentence. Kidnapping at gunpoint might even be good for a life sentence in many states.