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The Line Between Abortion and Murder Becomes…Nonexistent (Update: LGF Doubles Down)

John on December 18, 2009 at 12:09 pm

Update 3: Charles at LGF is doubling down on this one:

Two simple points that Ed Morrissey is apparently too simple to understand:

Note the snark and condescension.

1) A newborn baby is not a “fetus.”

Okay, but is it possible this is where the umbilical cord being attached came into play in the story? Is it possible the law hinges on whether or not the baby has a “seperate existence” from the mother? I’m not a lawyer but this would fit with all the press reports, like this one:

Current state law does not consider the baby to be a separate life, so the mother cannot be charged.

And the fact that the woman hasn’t been charged with a crime sort of suggests something is preventing them from filing charges. In fact, according to this story, this is the third such case in two years and none of the suspects have been charged:

Not once, not twice, but three times, Campbell County rescue crews say they’ve responded to a call for a dead newborn baby in the last two years, and all three of those times the mother wasn’t prosecuted.

So if the current law isn’t the explanation, what’s the alternative? Back to Charles:

2) The statute he dug up specifically says “the fetus of another.” The woman in question is accused of killing her own newborn baby — not “the fetus of another.”

Sigh. I think you’re really on to something here. It’s almost like there’s a loophole in the law. Oh, snap! Didn’t the original story mention a loophole in the law? Why, yes, it did:

The recent death of a newborn in Campbell County has prompted lawmakers to begin drafting legislation to close a loophole in state law that prevents the infant’s mother from being charged.

Charles has put his finger on the key to understanding the story, only he still can’t see it. But the attorney general-elect of Virginia can see it. Recall that he said:

I will support efforts to fix what appears to be a horrific loophole in our laws.”

I wonder what Charles thinks all these people are talking about. According to him, Virginia law is crystal clear on this point, i.e. there is no loophole.

Now the attorney general elect does say it “appears” to be a horrific loophole, so I guess Charles still has a little wiggle-room here, but given that we have three dead babies in two years and no charges, I’m guessing the loophole is kinda, sorta real. Finally, we reach the end:

So Ed Morrissey (look, I can write his name!) isn’t just wrong, he’s doubly wrong. And a dishonest coward to boot.

Note the snark and condescension. Do you think that might have something to do with Charles’ inability to parse the facts fairly here? Remember his original post ended with:

Just another day in the right wing blogosphere, promoting false stories without even bothering to check the facts.

Only the facts are pretty clearly on Ed’s side. At the very least, Ed hasn’t said anything (and neither have I) that isn’t fully justified by multiple press reports. If we’re wrong it’s because about 10 other people closer to the facts are wrong. Charles, on the other hand, is claiming all the reports thus far are wrong and his understanding of Virginia law is better than that of the attorney-general elect based on…bupkis.

Who is out on a limb here?

Update 2: Confirmed – The police, governor and media in Virginia know Virginia law better than California blogger Charles Johnson. Someone sent Ed the relevant statute which reads (scroll down for update):

18.2-32.2. Killing a fetus; penalty.
A. Any person who unlawfully, willfully, deliberately, maliciously and with premeditation kills the fetus of another is guilty of a Class 2 felony.
B. Any person who unlawfully, willfully, deliberately and maliciously kills the fetus of another is guilty of a felony punishable by confinement in a state correctional facility for not less than five nor more than 40 years.

Exactly as I suggested below, the loophole phrase “fetus of another” is the problem. Had someone else killed the child, it would have been murder.

Here is the bill which attempted to change this in 2007. It was reportedly rejected out of fear of the reaction of the abortion industry. Just more blood on their hands.

I’ll add a link when Charles sees fit to apologize for slandering

  1. Ed Morrissey
  2. Hot Air
  3. Blogs on the right

We’ve all been wrong before. I have. Shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s the tone of the original that bothers me. If you’re going to shoot your mouth off about what benighted, ignorant fools those people are, you better be prepared to eat a little crow when you’re proven wrong.

Update: Charles Johnson accuses Ed Morrissey (and by implication anyone who repeated the story below) of promoting a falsehood. Charles offers a link to this page of the VA State law and highlights the following portion:

C. For the purposes of this section, “human infant who has been born alive” means a product of human conception that has been completely or substantially expelled or extracted from its mother, regardless of the duration of pregnancy, which after such expulsion or extraction breathes or shows any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether or not the umbilical cord has been cut or the placenta is attached.

At first glance this seems to contradict the investigator quoted in the story. However, I’m not yet convinced Charles has it right. The original story says the following:

Emerson tells us there’s a double standard with the law.  If someone other than the mother harms a baby still attached to the mother, that person can be charged.

So it seems possible that the code section Charles highlighted, which is about partial birth infanticide, is directed at other persons, not at the mother. I don’t see that there explicitly, but that interpretation would mesh with what the police are saying.

It’s also possible Charles is right, but for now I’m siding with the investigators and local police. As this story below notes, this is the second such case of infanticide in this area of Virginia:

The reporter indicates that they are getting lots of mail about this. Now I suppose it’s possible the local reporters, police, investigators and state senators don’t understand Virginia law and are failing to charge these two women with murder out of ignorance despite public pressure. But that seems somewhat unlikely.

As you can see in the video above, the Governor elect has been asked about this case. I suspect he or his people would correct the confused police/investigators and have them charge the woman if in fact they were misinformed about the law as it stands in Virginia. So far that hasn’t happened.

Also, the statement issued by State Senator Newman says:

Senator Newman discussed this matter with the incoming Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli who has agreed to provide legal support for this bill. Cuccinelli said today, “”I have spoken to Senator Newman about the tragic and appalling circumstances of the baby’s death, and I certainly will make the resources of the Attorney General’s office available to help make sure this can never happen again.  This situation cries out for action, and I will support efforts to fix what appears to be a horrific loophole in our laws.”

Again, if Newman and the local police are wrong about VA law, you’d think the incoming state attorney general would be able to set them straight. But it seems all of these people whose job it is to know the relevant law agree about what it says and, for the moment,  all of them disagree with Charles Johnson.

The facts will become clear in the next few days, but for the moment the preponderance of evidence suggests that the locals have it right and Charles Johnson has it wrong. If Charles turns out to be right, I’ll say so. If he turns out to be wrong, I hope he’ll say so and maybe even offer Ed Morrissey an apology.


Hat tip to Ed at Hot Air who gets the story on a tip from Creative Minority Report:

This is an explosive issue and this is the most explosive possible story related to it that I can imagine. The state of Virginia (where I lived for 30 years) needs to get its act together on this immediately.

This really goes beyond politics or even one’s view of social issues to a fundamental human instinct that all parents (and most non-parents) have. You simply can not have newborns suffocated without eliciting a gut level response. That response needs to be channeled into a lawful process of charges against the perpetrator of the crime. This is how we do things in a civilized society. It’s the right way to do things. It’s the way pro-lifers like me support doing things.

But no response from law enforcement, as in this case, only means that visceral anger has no where to go. That’s not a good thing. Virginia needs to fix this now. Another incident like this (or two) without lawful recourse and things could very well get ugly. Murder of healthy newborns is just not something people are willing to accept as de rigeur.

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