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.