On Tuesday, the Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow a pregnant woman to use deadly force if someone threatens the life of her or the fetus she is carrying. It’s apparently based on a case — in Michigan, mind you — where a pregnant woman was convicted of manslaughter after she killed her boyfriend, who was trying to kill her. Section 2 of the bill sponsored by Republican Jeanie Riddle reads:
2. A person may not use deadly force upon another person under the circumstances specified in subsection 1 of this section unless: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such deadly force is necessary to protect himself, or herself or her unborn child, or another against death, serious physical injury, or any forcible felony …
Now, I am well aware that pregnant women — especially those in abusive relationships to begin with — sometimes lose their lives to their partners. Scott and Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant when she was killed, would be the most famous example of this. (Thanks to Frisky reader @ShelbyKnox for pointing out to us on Twitter that homicide is the number one cause of death for pregnant women.) But I smell a big, stinky anti-abortion rat here … A tactic of abortion opponents is to attempt to get fetuses treated as people under the law, with all the attendant rights. This concept is called “fetal personhood” and as recently as this year, abortion opponents have tried to affix fetal personhood amendments to state constitutions in Nevada and New Hampshire.
Now, what does “fetal personhood” have to do with making it legally A-OK for a pregnant woman to kill someone who is trying to kill her? My suspicion is this bill could maaaybe protect a woman who is ensnared in the same situation as the Michigan woman who was convicted of manslaughter. But, most likely, it’s trying to make legitimate the idea that a fetus is another “person” and undermine a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions.
And what happens if a woman has an abortion and then goes and murders her abortion provider? Or what if this bill becomes a slippery slope leading to another bill that reads a “man’s unborn child” — allowing a man to kill an abortion provider who is about to terminate the pregnancy of the man’s partner? Hey, crazier laws have been passed.