Monday, November 15, 2004


The Scott Peterson Effect


y Joe Mariani
November 15, 2004

The verdict is in. Scott Peterson, a fertilizer salesman and part-time philanderer from California, killed his wife, (web site) who was eight months pregnant. He tied her body to an anchor made of concrete and dumped it in San Francisco Bay, covering his actions with a story about a fishing trip for which he didn't even have the proper equipment. (web site) Despite the twistings and turnings of attorney Mark Geragos (who first gained media attention with his defense of Susan McDougal (web site) during the Clinton Whitewater scandal), (web site) the jury convicted Peterson of murder.

Why is this significant? Murders happen every day. Peterson was convicted not of one crime, but two. He was convicted of murder in the first degree (premeditated) of his wife, Laci. He was also convicted of murder in the second degree (intentional) of his son, Conner. It turns out that this may be very significant, after all.

  • Conner was not yet born.
  • You can only murder a human being.
  • Conner was murdered, therefore he was a human being.
  • A human being has rights.
  • Therefore, an unborn child is a human being with rights that should be protected.

I don't look at abortion from a religious standpoint. I've never seen a soul, and -- chances are -- neither have you. I have, however, seen the faces of the unborn (web site) as they smile, cry and play, thanks to the "miracle" of modern technology. (web site) The main Liberal argument seems to be that it's just a lump of "fetal tissue" right up until that magical moment when it breathes air and is transformed into a child. Not even the most fanatical Liberal will claim that it's not alive before that, just that it's not human life. Well, I was once a lump of tissue just like that. So were you. The DNA of an unborn child is fully human DNA. No one has yet documented any important changes that take place exactly at birth, except that suddenly the child's lungs are filled with air. And that's a pretty poor definition of humanity.

What defines us as human, if not our genetic code? At the moment of conception, a totally unique human genetic identity is created, one that has never existed before and will never exist again. There is no sudden, magical change detectable in the DNA between the moment of conception and the moment of birth. Therefore, a baby is a human life from the moment it's conceived until the moment it dies. And if it's human, it has to have some rights. One of those rights ought to be "not dying for someone else's convenience."

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, (web site) "49% of the 6.3 million pregnancies that occur each year are unplanned; 47% of these occur among the 7% of women at risk of unintended pregnancy who do not practice contraception." The three main reasons for choosing abortion are that having a baby would interfere with work, school or other responsibilities (75%), the women cannot afford a child (66%) and they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner (50%). Overlapping reasons aside, three quarters of abortions are performed for reasons of convenience?

Of all the reasons to end another's life, convenience has got to rank right up there as one of the not acceptable. It wasn't acceptable for Scott Peterson to kill Laci for the convenience of ending his family ties, and the court also ruled that even his unborn son had that much protection. We will see where it takes us in law...but it sets a good precident.

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