Justice for one baby - but no justice for 5,676.
The case of Bei Bei Shuai does present some legitimate concerns regarding how pregnant women are treated under the law, but also represents how double-minded we are on protecting life in the womb.
The possible precedents set by this case are insignificant next to the real elephant in the room - the fact that 5,676 babies were aborted in 2011 in Marion County alone. Where is the concern for these lives?
As for the precedents this case sets, it is legitimate to be concerned about the state's view of pregnant women. Professor Jessica Waters worried whether any action by a pregnant woman that could potentially harm a fetus could be a case of criminal prosecution.
Shuai had been abandoned by her boyfriend and decided to kill herself, so she ate rat poison to accomplish it. She survived, but the baby she was carrying did not. The Marion County prosecutor charged her with murder and feticide, prompting accusations that the charges were an attack on women's reproductive rights.
As for the precedents this case sets, it is legitimate to be concerned about the state's view of pregnant women. Professor Jessica Waters worried whether any action by a pregnant woman that could potentially harm a fetus could be a case of criminal prosecution. Will women's diet and exercise be scrutinized? While our nanny-state mentality does make this a concern, is this case really all that complicated?
This was not a case of bad decisions or negligence. Shuai clearly intended to do harm and took actions to cause harm. She clearly intended on killing herself and her baby and took actions to accomplish that goal. It seems logical that we can separate willful, intentional harm from simple negligence, bad health choices or other actions that could harm an unborn baby. We do not need to be a police state in order to say that something like this is illegal and will be prosecuted.
Nonetheless, the legal hypocrisy is striking. Had Shuai went to an abortion clinic where her pregnancy could be legally terminated, we would have never heard about this case. It would have been yet another "clean" late-term abortion, protected under the law as a "constitutional right."
But because of the unconventional method by which the baby died, she ran afoul of the law and could face decades in prison. If Shuai is convicted and punished, we can feel good that we have justice for the baby, as if that will hide our blood guilt for the 5,676 babies we have allowed to be killed last year. We strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, and that blood cannot be washed off our hands so easily.