From the statements of family members, Laci Peterson wanted her baby, but her desire did not confer personhood on the child, according to court rulings. A woman can legally kill her baby until the child's body has fully emerged from her body. But if Laci Peterson wanted her baby, can the law be on her side and impose the ultimate penalty on the one who illegally took that child's life? The answer to that question will make this trial compelling beyond whatever other facts emerge.
The Peterson case is going to be a tough one for the pro-choice lobby. They have a special interest in limiting the definition of "person " to those already born. Any jury is likely to be sympathetic to the dead woman and her dead baby and reject a political argument. The pro-choice lobby will jump into this case at its peril. More than two dozen states, including California, have adopted "fetal homicide " statutes. Prosecutors have often sought double homicide charges when an unborn baby is killed.
An indication of the predicament faced by pro-choicers came from the head of the National Organization for Women's Morris County, N.J., chapter, Mavra Star, who said, "If this is murder, well, then any time a late-term fetus is aborted, they should call it murder." Some do, but the law doesn't, though it once did.
If Scott Peterson is convicted of double murder and sentenced to die, that will mean a California court will have determined that the second victim in this case was, in fact, a person before the law.
See what I mean about this being an interesting case?