Still in season four, but in the episode I just watched, a 15 year old girl got pregnant, so her mother threw her out of the house. I guess the mom was a teen mother herself and had always been on a tear to the daughter to never get knocked up.
The teen then "tries to commit suicide" by stabbing herself in the stomach. Note that she's in the third trimester.
She gets herself to the hospital and obviously they take care of her. But because no one who really wants to die actually tries to commit suicide by stabbing themselves in the uterus, they suspect she was trying to kill the fetus and call the authorities.
She gets to the station and Helen Gamble (the DA) does some semantic trickery and gets her to admit that she was only trying to kill the fetus, by making up a story about about her own abortion and how she felt so much better when she talked about it. The girl is a teenager so naturally she falls for it. Helen then charges her with first degree murder.
My question is this: If the fetus is not yet born, and therefore not a person, how can you be charged with homicide for killing it? Only people have a right to life, no? Granted, this fetus was third trimester and so presumably viable if it had been delivered right then, but it still wasn't a person yet. I know that even in states that allow abortions, late term abortions are usually only permissible in cases of medical emergency, but I guess what I'm really asking is a question of bodily autonomy.
If the fetus isn't a person because it hasn't been born yet, and the mother has a right to abort if she so chooses, then how does stabbing yourself in an attempt to get rid of the fetus constitute murder? You can't murder non-persons. And since we're specifically talking about a human fetus, the mother has the right to abort until it's actually born and becomes a person. (Actual laws notwithstanding, since I'm sure there are laws that contradict my personal opinion.)
I mean, I would never try to abort a pregnancy by STABBING myself (good lord...) but I don't think there are laws prohibiting self-harm, and if the only casualty is the fetus, which doesn't have rights, how is that a crime?
I know there are obviously moral arguments tied up in this too, since it obviously comes down to when you assign personhood I guess, but I'm speaking in a practical sense. Personally I think that in the interest of ensuring a woman's complete and total bodily autonomy, that a fetus does not become a baby or a person until it is born alive, whether or not that happens prematurely.
It just seems kind of aggressive to me to charge a teen with murder for forcing her body to abort, especially since as a newly homeless teen, she probably didn't have the resources to abort legally even if it occurred to her. Thoughts?