I vaguely remembered hearing about the missing pregnant woman in Ohio last week, but it came to my attention this afternoon as I got a CNN Breaking News email that her boyfriend had been captured and charged. Here's the email:
Boyfriend Bobby Cutts Jr. has been charged with two counts of murder in the disappearance of pregnant Ohio mother Jessie Davis, the Stark County Sheriffs office says.
That "two counts of murder" jumped out at me right away. So I clicked over to read about it on the website (Quick note: I consider CNN the news equivalent of McDonald's and usually only visit them for a second opinion on something I'm reading somewhere else.)
The news story opens with:
There it was; the second count was the unborn fetus.
CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- Searchers recovered a body Saturday afternoon that they believe is that of Jessie Marie Davis, a pregnant woman who disappeared June 13, police said.
Bobby Cutts Jr., the father of Davis' 2-year-old son, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder, including that of Davis' unborn child, said Stark County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Rick Perez. Cutts is also believed to be the father of Davis' unborn child.
Obviously, if Cutts did kill Davis, I'd want him to be punished and put away for a long, long time. But I can't countenance charging him with the murder of the fetus. Was it wrong to kill David? Yes. Does it become more tragic and painful that she was pregnant? Yes. But then you need to consider the legal repercussions.
Basically, by charging Cutts with two counts of murder, the police are considering the fetus a life equal to that of its carrier/mother. If this goes on to trial (which I'm sure it will), this would establish that life as a legal precedent. Meaning that in the state of Ohio, a fetus will be a recognized life. Fine, you might say, bigger punishments for babykillers like Cutts (allegedly).
But that will leave a giant hole in the legal system for anyone in Ohio to prosecute a woman for having an abortion, or a doctor for performing one. I'm sure the anti-choice contingent in Ohio (or nationally) will jump all over this.
There is a difference between a fetus in the womb, and a baby that's alive. While Jessie Davis' death is a horrible tragedy, it would be a bigger tragedy if it opened the door for legislation that would deny women the ability to control their own reproductive systems.