Hawaii Supreme Court takes the logical next step

A woman, days away from giving birth, smokes crystal meth. It gets into her bloodstream and, naturally, into the bloodtream of her baby, who’s still in her womb. The baby is born alive, but with a lethal concentration of methamphetamine in his body; he dies two days later. The mother is prosecuted for manslaughter in the death of her baby, and is convicted. Her appeal goes to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which overturns the conviction on the grounds that — are you ready for this? — her baby “was not a person” at the time of the offense.

So even days before birth, a baby is not yet a person and therefore has no rights.

Pardon me while I throw up.

Just one question: what does this do to the question of prescription drugs taken during pregnancy? If you read the warning labels of the drugs you get from the pharmacy, you’ll see that many of them have warnings like “If you are pregnant, or think you might become pregnant, do not take this medication.” But if an unborn baby is not yet considered a person in the eyes of the law, and has no rights, then why would those warning labels be necessary?

If you take this out to its logical conclusion, as the court seems to have done, it goes in some really terrifying directions.

Update: After careful reading of the article, I have to say that the blame lies not with the Hawaii Supreme Court, but with the authors of the Hawaii Penal Code. The manslaughter law defines a person as “a human being who has been born and is alive,” according to the article’s summary of the court’s decision. So the court was properly interpreting a bad law, rather than pulling a judgment out of their hat.


  • Glen Dean says:

    That is awful and truly sad.

  • IsThatSo says:

    Pardon me before /I/ throw up — what business is it of yours what that woman does with her baby? Is it your baby? No. So mind your own business. Thy shalt keep thy religion to thyself. Just because /you/ think abortion is “evil” doesn’t mean that you should force it on the rest of us.

  • Robin Munn says:

    “Thou (not thy, BTW) shalt keep thy religion to thyself” sounds almost like a religious commandment, doesn’t it? I’m sure you meant it that way.

    Thing is, that’s not one of the commandments found in the religion called Christianity, which is the one I follow. It *is* one of the commands in the religion called postmodernity, which you appear to follow. So… why should *I* follow a command from *your* religion? And why are you telling me to do so? Doesn’t that violate the principle of “Thou shalt keep thy religion to thyself”?

    Turning to the question of forcing one’s views on abortion on people: the Roe v. Wade decision did just that. Prior to Roe v. Wade, the legality of abortion was left up to the states. Some had laws banning all abortions, while some had laws permitting abortions (usually only under certain circumstances, such as during the first trimester or to save the life of the mother). Rather few, I believe, allowed abortions under any circumstances.

    If Roe v. Wade were overturned tomorrow, abortion advocates would have us believe that we’d go back to the status quo ante, where abortions were forbidden throughout the U.S. But that fails to take into account the nature of the political landscape today. If Roe v. Wade were overturned, some states (such as California) would immediately pass laws allowing abortion under the same circumstances as before. Other states would pass laws allowing abortion under restricted circumstances, and some would pass laws forbidding all abortions. The result would be that the people of each state would get the chance to decide, in the normal democratic process, what laws they wanted to govern them. Instead of having just nine people impose the law on everyone.

    So, the ultimate question is: do you really believe in democracy? Or, when you think democracy will produce the “wrong” answer, are you prepared to hand the decision over to an oligarchy of nine?

  • Chris says:

    You are absolutely right. That is manslaughter, plain and simple. Awful, but true. How anyone could think the abdominal wall and a few days makes a difference to that question is beyond me.