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Defending the Indefensible 04/01/2004

A pregnant woman in New York drank so much vodka during her last trimester that her baby was born drunk. She was charged with child endangerment.

A Hawaiian woman consumed so much crystal meth that her newborn son died two days after his birth. She is being charged with manslaughter.

In California, a woman was given a life sentence in prison for poisoning her infant through breast milk tainted with methamphetamines.

What do all three of these cases have in common? Each of these women, as well as others accused of harming their fetuses, have one leading advocate. In addition to their defense lawyers, they now have a powerful organization backing their innocence. They now have the National Organization for Women (NOW).

A recent Newsweek article revealed that the far-left sociopolitical group has "cranked up its campaign" against such cases against women because of their fear that it could open the door to legal grounds for "fetal personhood" -- the idea that a child in the womb is actually a human being and not just a mass of tissue.

This debate will only grow more heated with President Bush's signage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act -- a measure that makes it a separate crime to harm a fetus during an assault on a pregnant woman. The high-profile deaths of Laci and Conner Peterson helped bring this law to national prominence; yet many still oppose it, including Presidential candidate John Kerry.

Despite the advances in modern medicine and pre-natal understanding, there are those in our society who are blinded by a decades-old allegiance to the landmark Roe vs. Wade case legalizing abortion. Back then, mothers could not watch their third-trimester infants suck their thumbs, turn their heads and even smile in the womb. But now, the advances in medical capabilities enable us to make moral judgments, especially when a perfectly healthy, completely viable infant dies at the hands of its mother because of her self-abuse (arguably child abuse).

NOW has latched onto the Utah mother's case in which a mentally ill woman refused a C-section, resulting in the death of one of her twin babies. The Salt Lake City district attorney called her a criminal, which does appear to be an overzealous accusation. But the more telling case could be the one in Hawaii in which the nursing child died two days after birth due to his mother's drug use. There is no way to defend this awful act.

The thought that anyone could defend such a case in order to protect one's ideology illustrates the lack of moral guidance in the lives of many people. It's a blind allegiance akin to the superstitions of the Aztec mothers who offered up their children as sacrifices to their gods. The modern god of ideological idolatry now accepts these child sacrifices in order to protect certain women's "right to choose."

The truth is, these cases poignantly illustrate the problem with today's abortion argument: that an unborn child is a non-person. When my wife discovered she was pregnant, she did not announce, "I'm going to have a fetus!" She, like every other woman entering the joys of motherhood, exclaimed, "I'm going to have a baby!"

Since we have come to some level of agreement as to when life ends (generally accepted as the cessation of brain activity), we should at least put the same medical and political effort into determining when life begins. Then, we could all agree that every life is precious and worth defending. Of course, those who continue to bow to their false gods may never agree, but we could at least establish a foundation upon which to build and put some common sense back into the "fetal personhood" debate.


Author: James Robison

Word Count: 620

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, an international humanitarian aid ministry; host of the television program, Life Today; and author of The Absolutes. For more information, log on to

Media Contact: Randy Robison, randy.robison at

Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.