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Saturday, April 19, 2003

Was Conner a baby?

The coroner's office in Modesto has now determined that the body washed ashore earlier this week was Laci Peterson, and that the baby who washed ashore two days earlier was her son, Conner. Laci was approximately eight months pregnant with Conner when she disappeared last Christmas Eve.

As I noticed while watching the news in Florida, the media has not yet determined whether Conner was a baby or a fetus. One network (I don't remember which one) referred to Conner as "a fully developed fetus".

The Drudge Report is referring to Conner as a "baby-fetus", linking to this article in the Washington Post, which prefers to call Conner a fetus.

The best description appears in all the recent articles in Laci's hometown newspaper, the Modesto Bee, which consistently refers to the child as Conner, the name given him by Laci prior to her disappearance. The paper also consistently uses phrases such as "Laci's son, Conner" or "Conner, the son of Scott and Laci Peterson." (For entertainment value, check out that caption under photos of Scott.)

Laci and Conner, rest in peace.


Diotima is on the case, linking to this article from a San Francisco paper which discusses California's so-called fetal homicide laws:

"Fetal homicide laws have provoked controversy in many states, and a so-called Unborn Victims of Violence bill moving through Congress has been opposed by national abortion rights organizations."


Abortion-rights activists sometimes argue that the mother's attitude toward what is inside her uterus is the sole factor that matters in deciding whether it has any independent moral status. If she thinks it is a real baby entitled to her protection, then it is a real baby. If she thinks it is a nasty clump of cells, a parasitical tumor, then it is a nasty clump of cells and a parasitical tumor.

Interesting, therefore, that when the reproductive rights groups look at fetal homicide laws, all of a sudden it is no longer what the mother thinks about the contents of her uterus that matter. Their opposition to fetal homicide laws implies that in cases where the mother is under the impression that the content of her uterus is a real baby, but where someone else kills the child, the mother's opinion is no longer relevant in determining whether it was a real baby or not.

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