Tennessee Case Focuses on Violence Against Pregnant Women
by Maria Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
January 8, 2004
Nashville, TN (LifeNews.com) — A Tennessee case is raising new questions about the manner in which the law treats unborn victims of crime.
Police say two men who have been charged with shooting a pregnant woman in Nashville could face an additional murder charge for killing the woman’s unborn baby.
Thirty-two-year-old Tracy Owen may have actually been in labor when she was gunned down. The alleged gunmen, Antonio Dejesus Idelfonso, 17, and EliseoMarcelino-Quintero, 22, claimed they murdered the woman because they had thought they had struck her with their pickup truck and feared they would get in trouble.
They’re likely to face serious consequences now, according to investigators.
Owen’s brother, David Owen, told television station WKRN that he had been crying all day and was still in shock following a detention hearing held for Idelfonso.
Owen told the station, "She had a great attitude and was always smiling. She just loved everybody."
Idelfonso will remain in custody on the criminal charges. A hearing is scheduled March 2 to determine whether he will be tried as an adult.
Even though Marcelino-Quintero was not the trigger-man, he was charged with murder because of his involvement in the crime. He drove the truck, had knowledge of the killing, cleaned the murder weapon and hid it at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment.
Tennessee is one of 28 states which permit prosecutors to pursue a murder charge when an unborn child is killed. A deputy district attorney, Tom Thurman, told the Tennessean newspaper that the state’s law applies to any fetus that is able to live outside the mother’s womb. A medical examiner will have to determine whether Owen’s baby was viable.
In recent years, much attention has been focused on unborn crime victims. The Laci Peterson case, in which a pregnant California woman and her unborn son Conner were murdered, has been the subject of continuous cable news coverage.
In the wake of such coverage, some observers have wondered how abortion can be legal, when other acts of violence against unborn children are not.
Pro-abortion groups have gone so far as to oppose unborn victims of violence laws, claiming they are a tool designed to outlaw abortion.
But backers of such legislation say that fetal homicide laws do not address the issue of abortion. And, contrary to what has been reported in the Tennessean newspaper, mainstream pro-life groups do not advocate charging post-abortive women with murder. Pro-life leaders note that women who seek abortions are often victims as well and deserve compassion rather than condemnation.