From today's Honolulu Advertiser:
The Hawaii State Supreme Court unanimously (5-0) overturned the conviction of a
...woman whose newborn infant died because she smoked crystal methamphetamine during her pregnancy.
The high court ruled that the homocide prosecution of Tayshea Aiwohi did not fall under state law because her unborn child was not a "person" when she smoked the drug.
This will no doubt come as a surprise to Scott Peterson who, just one year ago, was conviced of second-degree murder in the death of his unborn son, Conner.
In the Hawaii case, the mother
...said she used ice the three days before the birth and took a "hit" on the morning of (her son's) birth.
The baby died two days later of what the city medical examiner's office found was high levels of methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system.
The implications of this ruling are far-reaching.
As one justice stated in an opinion signed by four of the five judges (the fifth wrote a separate opinion), the "logical implication" is that a person can not be prosecuted for causing the death of a child by injuring the pregnant mother.
The reason for this is clear: An unborn child can not be a "person" when someone other than the mother causes his/her death at the same time that the same child is not a "person" if the mother causes his/her death.
I should think that in Hawaii, at least, this would mean that a doctor who does something prior to a baby's birth that either kills, permanently maims or otherwise injures the child can not be prosecuted because, at the time of the incident, the unborn child was not yet a "person" under state law.
This would mean that a drunk driver who slams into the car of a pregnant woman and causes either the death of her unborn baby or a miscarriage can not be prosecuted for the same reasons.
There can be no doubt that this ruling will create years of litigation chaos in Hawaii.
If an unborn child is not yet a "person," what is it? The property of the pregnant woman? (Note: She can't be called the "mother" because there is no "person" to be a mother of!) Does a father have any claim on "ownership" of his unborn child? Or is the unborn child simply an extension of the woman's body, like her arms or her legs?