Saturday, December 18, 2004

What's in a name?

The horrifying murder of Bobbi Jo Stinnett has the media stumbling for words. Her unborn baby was cut from her body and kidnapped.

This story from Fox News, for example, shows how silly it sounds when you try to avoid calling a baby "a baby" because it might offend abortion advocates. Here are some quotes:

"Authorities have charged a woman with killing mom-to-be Bobbi Jo Stinnett (search) and cutting the fetus from her womb."

Okay, at that point the child was still technically a fetus.

Lisa M. Montgomery ... is accused of ... strangling her and taking the woman's premature baby girl.

So far so good -- after being removed, the baby would properly be referred to in this way. But then it gets bizarre:

Montgomery was in possession of the infant believed to be the stolen fetus...

Was this a kidnapped infant or a "stolen fetus?"

[A]uthorities were questioning a man and a woman who were in the place where the baby was found. .... The kidnapped baby, said to be in good health, was taken to a hospital in Topeka, Kan., authorities said.

Now she's a baby again.

Earlier Friday, investigators put out the Amber Alert for the missing fetus ....

Amber Alerts are for kidnapped children. So here a fetus is a child.

Espey said authorities are awaiting DNA testing to confirm the girl is Stinnett's child.

Now she's a "girl" and a "child."

Several pregnant women have been killed in recent years by attackers who then removed their fetuses, in some cases to pass the children off as their own.

According to Roe vs. Wade, fetuses are most assuredly not children.

In the most recent case, a 21-year-old woman was shot to death in Oklahoma in December 2003, allegedly by another woman who pretended the 6-month-old fetus was her child. The fetus died and prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

This gets really confusing. Was this a case where the baby died while being removed from the mother, or was this a "fetus ex utero" that died after being prematurely delivered?

I don't know if this is a sign of a good thing or a bad thing. Are we starting to recognize that, at least past viability, fetuses are indeed children? Or are we starting to view newborns as just fetuses that have changed location?

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