Friday, June 18, 2004

Here we go... the Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that a "viable" fetus is a person under the law, with respect to homicide and manslaughter statutes.

Two points. One, in a cop-out worthy of the Scalia Supreme Court, the court refused to define "viable", making the decision a gold mine for givers of medical 'expert' testimony, who will be called in on both sides of every trial that results.

The second point is the most crucial though. Despite the claims of Robert Cetrulo, president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, the decision did not bring Kentucky law "into line with biology"; it brought it into line with the legislature. The court's decision was specifically predicated on existing Kentucky civil laws allowing for suits against those who kill fetuses, and abortion law which implicitly defines "viable".

"It is inherently illogical to recognize a viable fetus as a human being whose estate can sue for a wrongful death and who cannot be -- aborted except to preserve the life or health of the mother, but not as a human being whose life can be non-consensually terminated without criminal consequences," said the decision, written by Justice William S. Cooper of Elizabethtown.

In other words, it was a complete end-run around Roe v. Wade. Kentucky passed legislation re-defining personhood, then their Supreme Court sanctioned the new definition based on the legislation. Circular logic, and a neat little pincer movement -- and one that is almost certainly going to be the blueprint for anti-abortion campaigns in other states.

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