Thursday, October 19, 2006

Self Administered Abortion

Judge Dismisses Charges Against Woman Who Killed Her Unborn Child: Pregnant Mother Shot Herself in the Stomach, Killing Her Child, Va. Judge Rules Causing Your Own Abortion Is Not a Crime (ABC News).

Tammy Skinner was a poor, desperate 22-year-old with two young children and another one on the way. She said her boyfriend wouldn't pay for an abortion, so she carried her pregnancy to term. Then she did the unthinkable.

Prosecutors say that on the morning she was scheduled to give birth, Skinner drove to an auto dealer's parking lot, took a gun, and shot herself in the belly, killing the fetus in an act of self-abortion. Skinner was charged with carrying out an illegal abortion.
Apparently, there is precedence for such a ruling:
Martingayle cites a 1997 Florida case in which a teenage mother shot her womb, effectively giving herself an abortion. The woman in that case, State vs. Ashley, was acquitted, as was the mother in a similar 1998 case in Georgia.
Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago makes a good point:
If the right to kill the child resides totally in that child's mother -- which it does -- why would it be illegal for her to do this with a gun as opposed to with a suction vacuum machine in a doctor's office
There does seem to be a logical conflict... or does this case evince that rare exception wherein a medical professional could rule that Skinner's mental health would be so gravely damaged by birthing another child that a third trimester pregnancy could be legally aborted?

I'm not sure what to derive from this case -- either early abortion or birthing to adoption would have been far preferable. Can pro-lifers and pro-choicers at least agree that her actions should be illegal? If so, what should be the punishment? If it shouldn't be illegal, does this encourage self-abortion?

I would not doubt that some kind of insanity was involved, though doesn't it seem that most heinous, irrational crimes require some modicum of insanity?

Skinner also said, "I got somebody to load the gun, because I didn't know how." It strikes me as strange that she couldn't load her own gun. And I wonder if that "somebody" could be liable?


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Foley -- Getting the Facts Straight

I'm having a difficult getting my facts straight with regard to this Rep. Foley fiasco. I'm particularly concerned with the behavior of the House Republican leadership, particular Rep. Hastert, a man that I have had great respect for. If he has covered up in any way for Foley's behavior, my respect for him will disappear in an instant.

But, facts can be elusive, and there are lots of different stories and opinions floating around, masquerading as facts. I'm going to present here the facts as well as I understand them. If you have corrections, additions, or clarifications, please add them in.

Once we get the facts straight, we can start to make sense of the analysis, and what our response should be.

* As far back as 2001, pages were getting "internal warnings" about Foley. I have no idea what the content or nature of these warnings was.

* In 2003, Rep. Foley had an IM exchange with a page, attempting to set up a sexual encounter. Nobody in the government or the media knew about this exchange until last Friday.

* In 2005, Rep. Foley had an email conversation with a page, which was not sexual but was troublingly personal (asking for a picture, etc.).
- The boy's parents knew about the exchange, and Rep. Hastert's office was contacted.
- The emails were also leaked to two newspapers in Florida.
- The boy's parents (according to Hastert) asked that the situation not be followed up
- Hastert spoke with Foley about the incident, accepted Foley's word that it was not a problem, and asked Foley not to have any further contact with the boy.
- The Florida newspapers found the language to be inconclusive, and opted not to print the information.

* Since Friday, I understand that other conversations have come to light, but the two referenced above are the ones constantly and predominantly referred to, so I'm not clear what content is in the other emails or messages.

Primary Sources:
AP, Oct 2
NY Daily News

What else is out there that I'm missing?