Utah Prosecutors Appeal Dismissal of Miscarriage-Abortion Case Against Teenager

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 8, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Utah Prosecutors Appeal Dismissal of Miscarriage-Abortion Case Against Teenager

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 8
, 2009

Salt Lake City, UT (LifeNews.com) — Prosecutors have appealed a judge’s decision to dismiss a criminal case against a Utah girl who paid a man to hit her in the stomach in an attempt to cause a miscarriage-abortion. In October, the teenager was declared by a judge to not be guilty of violating any state law.

In November, 8th District Juvenile Judge Larry A. Steele used a state abortion law that one state legislator says was applied wrongly to absolve her of any responsibility.

He said Utah abortion law is "unambiguous" when it states, "a woman who is seeking to have or obtains an abortion for herself is not criminally liable."

The case involves 21-year-old Aaron Harrison whom the unnamed 17-year-old girl asked in May to help her cause an abortion to kill her seven-month-old unborn child.

The court documents show the girl’s boyfriend had threatened to leave her if she did not get an abortion.

Harrison, a friend of the girl, reportedly struck and bit her and she paid him $150 to do so. The unborn baby survived the attack and doctors induced labor so the baby could be born and the child was placed in state custody.

A guardian ad litem has filed a petition seeking to terminate the teenager mother’s rights to the baby, the newspaper indicated.

Utah State Courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer told the Deseret News that a judge will visit the request in the coming weeks.

On Tuesday, the Deseret News indicates the Utah Attorney General’s Office, in concert with the Uintah County Attorney’s Office, filed a notice of appeal.

Harrison, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was eventually sentenced to up to five years in prison for attempting to kill an unborn child.

"The Legislature would not approve of any court rewriting their statutes or finding loopholes around clearly stated statutes," Steele wrote in dismissing the case. "The relevant statute is not a loophole — it is a clearly stated rule of law."

Rep. Carl Wimmer, a republican legislator, has responded and said he would take action during the next legislative session to respond to the ruling.

He said he is "absolutely outraged" at the decision and plans to "close that loophole for good."

"The judge is absolutely stretching," he said. "There’s no way the judge believes the Utah Legislature left open this loophole. I guarantee it will be closed this next session."

During the trial, the teen’s attorney Rich King, said, "Women may use any procedure or method of terminating pregnancy, by abortion or by miscarriage, and they cannot be charged with a crime."

Prosecutors had argued the girl’s failed attempt was not a legal abortion because it can only be done by a licensed physician in the state.

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