Bottom Line: Shouldn’t we take just as seriously the suggestion that we should kill this defendant (the developing fetus), as we did in executing Nazi war criminals? And, of course, shouldn’t we prove, beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever, that the fetus is not actually a person? Because whatever he, the fetus, is … he’s guilty of nothing whatsoever, and we all know it.
When we kill a man in America, what do we do? Well, we subject him to a trial that’s supposed to “prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that he did something horrible; generally that he killed another person in particularly despicable fashion. Furthermore, if we can’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that he did it, we let him go free, with shamefaced apologies from the court.
Heck, we do kind of the same thing for nearly everything that we kill. Whether it be a wild animal, or a weed. If it’s a wild animal, then it has to be doing something wrong to us, or we leave it alone. That wasn’t always true. The only things for which we don’t really do that is: food, and the prey of hunters… whose activities are heavily regulated, nonetheless.
Well, the fetus is neither a wild animal, nor food, nor a weed, nor prey for hunters. Therefore, the fetus has to have done something really, really awful! After all, we’re not even going to be ceremonial about killing “it.” We’re going to suck “it” out of “its” temporary home, rip “it” apart, and throw “it” away in a plastic bag marked “BIO-WASTE,” that we toss down a garbage chute.
We won’t be even that horrible to Charlie Manson when he goes to his eternal lava pool.
Heck, when we hanged the Nazi war criminals after World War II, we made a great show of trying them, and giving them every possible fair shot at making the case that they should live. Then we very ceremoniously killed them and released their bodies to their next of kin for dignified burial.
A fetus must be a particular kind of monster, if we don’t give it as much consideration as we gave to Nazi war criminals. More to the point, only some fetuses are such monsters. Apparently, it’s only those fetuses who lost life’s ultimate lottery, and got a bad mother.
Got a bad mother? Presto-changeo, you’re the monster, you’re “bio-waste,” you’re expendable, you horrid fetus, you.
Well, imagine if we were to give the fetus its due, or its due process, and make someone prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that whatever it did was so heinous, that it needs to be killed. How do you think that would go for “the Prosecution?”
Well, for starters, the Prosecution team would have to answer a passel of inconvenient questions, including, “What did the defendant do that was so horrible?” Answer: “Well, you see, it’s inconvenient, and she (the mother) doesn’t have time to take care of a baby.”
What parent ever has “time to take care of a baby?” All parents have to make major adjustments to welcome the new little one into his or her home. Does the mom quit her job, and take three or four years out of the work force? And, if so, what will be the long-term impact to her career? What will be the impact of the loss of her income, as well as the additional expenses of the baby? Yet, with all that additional complexity, we don’t just let parents opt out of taking care of their kids, do we?
And, says the wannabe murdering mama: “I don’t have the money to take care of a baby…”
Again, sounds like all parents at all times, except for those fortunate few who don’t have any financial worries.
Furthermore, (he said, speaking from bitter experience) it sounds like tens of millions of divorced daddies when confronted with the child support payments they’ll have to make for kids they might be able to see only rarely. But we don’t let the divorced daddies out of those payments, do we?
“But,” says the the would be Terminatress: “…it’s my body! How dare you try to tell me what to do with my body!”
“Objection!” shouts the defense attorney, “Irrelevant. The mother is not on trial for her life here.”
“Sustained,” replies any sane judge disdainfully. “Witness will refrain from introducing irrelevancies into this proceeding.”
And so forth.
The defense attorney then asks the question: “How did the defendant come about?”
The star witness ashamedly admits that she had sex with … “that man there!” and she points at the father of the defendant.
“Why did you do that?” asks the defense attorney.
An uncomfortable conversation ensues, at the end of which the defense attorney says, “And the defendant must pay with his life simply because you couldn’t control your physical urges? Somehow that’s the defendant’s fault?!?”
“Objection!” shouts the Prosecution, “Counsel is badgering the witness!”
“Withdrawn,” says the defense attorney contemptuously, before the judge can rule.
Then, the defense attorney, innocence all over his face, asks the question, “If the defendant has done nothing wrong, and it was your ill-advised behavior that has brought us here in the first place, tell me, why again are we supposed to kill the defendant?”
The witness hangs her head and fails to answer the question.
The Defense continues: “Well, since you’re proposing that we treat this defendant worse than we treat Nazi war criminals, shouldn’t we prove that he…”
“Objection!” shouts the Prosecution, “Defense counsel doesn’t know what sex the defendant is. If it please the court, I must insist that Defense counsel refer to the defendant as ‘it.'”
“I’ll…” begins the judge.
The Defense attorney jumps in hurriedly, again all innocence, “Your Honor, how can an ‘iti\’ — any ‘it’ — be of one sex or the other? Yet the Prosecutor himself just said that, and I quote, that I ‘don’t know what sex the defendant is,’ thereby acknowledging that the defendant is indeed of one sex or the other. By the way, at this stage of the defendant’s development, we could find out if you wish. Then, I could refer to the defendant properly as ‘he or she…'”
The judge says, hurriedly, “That won’t be necessary.”
The Defense lawyer continues, “Then, I think that since the Prosecutor acknowledges that the defendant is either male or female, I should be allowed to refer to the defendant using the generic designation of ‘he.'”
The judge’s jaw drops, and he stares for a moment.
The prosecutor leaps to his feet. “Your Honor, counsel for the Defense is grandstanding. He knows full well that the baby …”
“Baby?” interrupts the Defense.
Red-faced and with teeth clenched, the Prosecutor says, “…the fetus, the g**d*** fetus… has no sex, It is an it!”
“Your Honor!” says the Defense attorney, “The Prosecution’s language is inappropriate and unprofessional!”
“Keep your demeanor under control, Counselor,” says the judge testily.
“Yes, Your Honor,” replies the Prosecutor, teeth still clenched.
The judge has a dismayed look on his face, and his jaw is still a bit agape.
“Wait, wait,” says the Defense attorney, “the fetus isn’t of one sex or the other? At this point I happen to know that an ultrasound will quite definitely show whether the defendant has a penis … or not. Is the Prosecution trying to tell the court that a penis is not a definitely male appendage?”
The judge regains some composure, and bangs his gavel. “Enough!” With a resigned look, “Defense counsel may refer to the defendant as ‘he.'”
The Defense attorney continues, “Thank you, Your Honor. Now, if I may, the Prosecutor just tried to persuade you to make a ruling that the defendant is not a person, yet he presented no evidence other than the fact that he didn’t like how I referred to him. To the defendant, that is. Quite reasonably, you allowed me to refer to the defendant as ‘he.’ Let us not lose sight of the fact that the defendant is here fighting for his very life, and that I could try to press the point that you yourself just ruled that the defendant is a person. However, this is a grave undertaking in which we’re engaged here.
Furthermore, I understand that I’m stating the obvious in saying that if we were to let this trial proceed for anything longer than several months, then all the arguments we’re all trying to make here in this court would be mooted by the universally acknowledged fact of the arrival of a bouncing baby boy. Or girl. Yet, we insist that any other death penalty trial for an adult take all the time we need — YEARS, if necessary — to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the guilt of the defendant. We do this in order to be as certain as we possibly can that we’re not going to commit the ultimate injustice of taking the life of an innocent man.
Yet here, we are being asked to arrive at a life or death conclusion in the space of a few short weeks? All the while being perfectly aware that in a few months a perfectly innocent baby will be born, who is guilty of absolutely nothing.
Shouldn’t we take just as seriously the suggestion that we should kill this defendant, as we did in executing Nazi war criminals? And, of course, shouldn’t we prove, beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever, that the defendant is not actually a person? Because whatever he, the defendant, is … he’s guilty of nothing whatsoever, and we all know that.”
The Defense rests.