The Laci Peterson case will perhaps go down in US history as one of the most important legal cases of this century. Its distinctive importance will likely be due to a single issue raised in the case, which is the value that our society, and not necessarily the courts, places upon unborn, yet viable human life. Laci Peterson was 8 months pregnant, or more, when she and her unborn baby were murdered. The suspected killer in the case has been charged with two counts of murder, which means that the court is willing to accept the idea that a potentially viable, and yet unborn fetus has a right to life. That alone makes the case very important, even though the courts have not accepted absolutely that unborn children have rights. Yet, the verdict in this case, whether or not the jury finds the suspect guilty or innocent of murder in respect to the unborn child, could be recognized as a very public pronouncement on the shaky legal and moral premise of Roe v. Wade. T! he mere act of citizen contemplation in this case may rejuvenate the idea of a social justice, or a common societal good, in respect to matters involving the lives and deaths of the citizenry and our offspring. It arguably puts back into the hands of the people, those who have been repeatedly ignored, overruled and denied by special interest groups, the opportunity to speak legally and morally about the impact that abortion has on our potential and hope, as a nation that can only continue through either procreation, or immigration. We might get to say that as a nation, we love our unborn children, and want them to live, and will hold those who kill them accountable.
The public’s deliberation of guilt or innocence in respect to the murder of the Peterson child, might intimate that indeed the people of this country, even if the Roe v. Wade court didn’t, that we do believe that someone must at all times be responsible and accountable for the life of the unborn. The Peterson case, by disturbing the supposedly sound argument for special interest justice, presented by Roe v. Wade, might inadvertently create a cause, or opportunity to revisit, and perhaps even question the soundness of abortion rights logic. A logic which suggests to us, that a woman parent, but not a male parent, can kill the unborn and get away with it. An opposing argument does not suggest that the killer, male or female, of the Peterson child, or any unborn child should go free. In fact it argues the exact opposite, suggesting that whoever takes the life of the unborn without just cause has committed some degree of murder.
According to Roe v. Wade, women, simply because they are women, have an unquestionable, and unique legal privilege to take life. The unique quality of the right is explained by the unique role that women play in the procreative process, which is to nurture life and then to birth that life. Never the less, the life itself, if indeed it can be owned by a human being or beings, as Roe v. Wade implies, must also have intrinsic value, and the value of that life, is shared by another owner along with the mother, which must be the father.
The Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that a woman’s decision, or choice to have an abortion is a “private” or rather a legally protected choice. This is the same legal strategy being employed in the Texas case in respect to homosexual sodomy, which is arguably another attempt to use our judicial system to create special interest rights and justice, while obliterating social justice in the process. One of the important differences between the two cases is that in the case of homosexual sodomy, it would be privileged only for consenting adults. According to Roe v. Wade on the other hand, one only need be female to legally kill the unborn. If you are female in the United States, you enjoy the single and individual right to privately decide to allow, or to end the life of an unborn child, even though a child, without doubt, has two biological parents, and two supposed owners. Presently, a male parent has no rights in respect to the unborn in the United State! s, not even a right to attempt to save an unborn child’s life through the courts, from a mother incapable of making a sound or moral decision, as is often the case with adolescents panicked by an unwanted pregnancy. Imagine, in some states, a young women who cannot legally negotiate or sign a contract to purchase a car, can decide to kill an unborn child, and in some cases taxpayers dollars can be used to pay the cost, directly or indirectly. A young woman, who society will not allow to purchase cigarettes or alcohol, can decide to kill her unborn child, and not be challenged, or held liable for her decision. She cannot be held accountable, even to society for the impact of her decision, which is measurable once we consider the erosion of the esteem for life in our society that has accompanied abortion rights. There has been significant and measurable damage done to our society by the moral, or rather the immoral reasoning that made it acceptable to a nation that its women should be given rights previously enjoyed only by God, over life and death, and that father’s and extended families should be denied an opportunity to save an unborn life, offering perhaps alternatives to abortion such as adoption, or compensation for carrying a child to term, and giving birth, and care taking, rather than killing the child, so long as the life or health of the mother is not seriously jeopardized or threatened.
Prior to the advent of sophisticated, easily accessed, affordable, and almost 100% effective and foolproof contraception, it was perhaps easy to sympathize with a woman, or girl who found herself in a situation that presented two choices, one of them inescapably tempting because it could completely and easily eliminate unwanted and very grave consequences. In that scenario, public sympathy seemed the right and moral response to the abortion question, and well suited to our national idea that every human being deserves more than one chance. In that respect, the life of a born and living young girl guilty only of making a mistake, could not be compared equally with the potential life of a lump, whose birth would absolutely ruin a life already in process. Today, unwanted pregnancy can hardly be excused, and with our less parochial view of life and consensual sexual conduct, there is no harsh, or traumatizing public censure associated with unwed parenting. Thing! s have changed, and it stands to reason that even if we felt somehow that it was right to make the uncomfortable decision to give women power over unborn life and death, while denying fathers and families their rights, in 2003, such a decision is questionable and should perhaps be revisited. The Peterson case probably cannot overturn Roe v. Wade, and since I am not a lawyer or Judge I cannot render or offer a legal opinion, yet as a citizen, I suggest that it can, and will, call into question the logic of a legal premise that grants an abortion right to individuals based upon gender, while totally ignoring any concept of a social, or moral definition of the right to life of the unborn, upon which to premise legal judgments and decisions. That the people have been granted an opportunity to prosecute on behalf of an unborn child is a powerful statement in and of itself, and might be evidence of a new and more sound logic coming into play, that suggests that the born, do indeed! have a responsibility, and are accountable for the rights, and the life of the unborn. Maybe, in the future, courts will be hard pressed to explain to the nation how and why it creates special interest rights for women and homosexuals, yet repeatedly turns its head when it comes to the rights of the unborn to remain alive, and not be murdered by anyone, without just cause.
The writer is the Founder and President of the National Association of Muslim American Women and host a weekly internet radio program at IBN.Net, named “A Civilizational Dialogue.” (1-2 PM each Wednesday). The author is also head of the International Assoc. for Muslim Women and Children, an accredited NGO with the UN Division on the Rights of the Palestinians.