The Norman Transcript

Columns

June 22, 2014

Are some fetuses worth protecting?

NORMAN — The other day, I was standing at the bus stop when I saw something that annoyed me. That’s not unusual.

Lots of things annoy me about public transportation, from healthy teenagers who refuse to give up their seats to the elderly to people who try to pay their fares with crumpled $5 bills, expecting change (a giveaway that this is someone whose Lexus is at the mechanic).

But there is the sort of annoyance that just makes you shake your head and move on, and then there is the sort of annoyance that makes you want to wrestle the offender to the ground and risk a conviction for simple assault. On this particular day, I contemplated what an orange jumpsuit might do to my complexion.

There was a woman, so pregnant that she should have paid for two fares, who had a beer in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. I thought about taking a photo to shame her on Facebook, but the skull-and-flowers tattoo on her bare left calf made me hesitate: This pregnant woman scared me. My three weeks of self-defense classes in 1983 were no match for her.

Why am I telling you this, other than to coax some cheap chuckles? Just bear with me (no pun intended).

This week, the Chester County, Pa., District Attorney’s Office announced it was filing some charges under a rarely used, somewhat controversial law that criminalizes acts that result in the death of a fetus.

Before the pro-choice purists start hyperventilating and reaching for their vaginas in mass panic, I can assure them that Roe v. Wade has not (yet) been overturned. The prosecutor is using a law that holds third parties who commit a crime against a pregnant woman, thereby causing her to miscarry, liable for the death of her unborn child.

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