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Professor Denno Comments on Fetal Homicide Law in Ohio Kidnapping

Submitted by on May 16 – 2013No Comment

Professor Deborah Denno appeared on Brian Lehrer last week to discuss the Ariel Castro kidnapping case in Ohio. Prosecutors in the case recently suggested that Castro may be charged with aggravated murder for inducing miscarriage in one of the women he held in captivity. If convicted, Castro could receive the death penalty.

Denno explained that there are 23 states, including Ohio, that have a “fetal homicide law” under which someone like Castro can be charged. She also said the Ohio law does not implicate a woman seeking an abortion.

In Ohio there is an exception, there is a division…that makes it clear that this would not apply to a situation in which a pregnant woman is going to a physician to perform an abortion. And that’s the case in many of these states where they do have an exception for abortion.

Some pro-choice advocates have nevertheless raised concerns that these laws could lead to a “slippery slope” in which the laws might be used to redefine personhood. But Denno explained that these laws are distinct for reasons of consent.

This is without the consent of the woman. When a woman gets an abortion it’s with her consent. When another person unlawfully terminates that woman’s pregnancy, that’s without her consent.

Regardless, Denno implied that she doubts Castro will receive the death penalty, saying it would be very difficult to prove that there was an unlawful termination of pregnancy. Denno said it was unlikely that Castro would ever again “see the light of day” due to the various other charges he faces.

Listen to Denno’s interview at WNYC

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