Scenario for a Horror Movie...

Scenario for a Suspense/Thriller/Horror Movie

I came up with this while debating with Pyrrhonist what the legal status of infants who are born alive as the result of botched abortions ought to be, in this thread. I was going to put this in there, but then I developed it to a point where I think it deserves its own thread. If you don’t want to follow the link to see the whole argument, basically I am arguing that a child that is “born” as the result of a botched late term abortion deserves the same legal protections as a child born any other way, and Pyrrhonist is arguing that it does not.

So, the scenario: We posit the existence of an Evil Corporation. Easy enough. Evil Incorporated wants to perform experiments on live humans, to develop new medical technologies. This is illegal, of course, but EI’s lawyers believe they have found a loophole. We assume the scenario takes place in a near future in which the use of fetal stem cells from abortions is legal and generally accepted (not by the hard core pro-lifers, of course, but you know what I mean).

Here is what EI does: It finds some women who are pregnant and want to have abortions. How exactly is not important. EI has lots of money and clever lawyers; they will find a way. It offers the women an inducement: They hold off on their abortions until sometime in the third trimester, they get financially compensated, plus free room and board and top quality medical care at an EI-run medical facility.

Here we must make some stipulations. First, most women looking to get an abortion want to get it overwith as soon as possible, and will not want to be put through the emotional wringer of delaying it, even for a lot of money. However, EI has money and resources to burn. And if you look hard enough, and are willing to spend the money, I think we can assume you can find quite a few people willing to do some pretty unsavory things. For a price.

So. Let us say EI digs until it finds 100 such women. It sets them up at a medical facility in a state with lax laws concerning 3rd trimester abortions. Some of the doctors know what’s going on here, and are being paid hush money on the side. The other medical personal are given some kind of plausible cover story, perhaps about some kind of legal medical research.

In due course, the abortions are performed. If the laws in the state make it necessary, one or more of the corrupt doctors getting the hush money certifies a medical necessity. And now we get into the suspense/thriller/horror aspects. The abortions are performed in such a way that the chances that the fetus will survive the procedure are maximized. IANADoctor, but I assume this is possible; I have heard of very rare cases in which botched “conventional” late term abortions result in the fetus coming out alive. If it can happen accidently, I am sure EI’s doctors can cause it to happen on purpose.

By now you no doubt see where the scenario is going. The “children” that came through the procedure alive are put in respirators, and the attempt is made to keep them alive, using the same methods used to keep children born prematurely alive in hospitals.

We assume a success rate of 25%. So, EI now has 25…25 what, exactly? Fetuses? Blobs of tissue? I will adopt the convention of calling them “children”, like that, with quotation marks. EI now has 25 “children” with no legal status as human beings. No laws protect aborted fetuses. You cannot be a “citizen”, protected by the law, unless you were “born”. These children were never “born”, so it would seem they have the legal status of “medical waste”.

The “children” are raised in an EI-run “orphanage” presumably in some isolated place. As they grow to an age where they are useful, medical experiments are performed on them. If the whole thing is profitable, EI repeats the process. EI, of course, is not perfect. They are bound to slip up at some point, and so the information about what they are doing is bound to get out.

We assume, for our scenario, that the information gets out to Our Plucky Heroine (played by Julia Roberts) who is, I think, one of the nurses hired by EI to work at their “orphanage” who wasn’t “in on it”. Things then proceed in typical suspense/thriller fashion…a handsome love interest (played by Denzel Washington), a little gratuitous nudity, maybe a car chase, etc, etc.

We eventually wind up at the climactic scene in which OPH confronts the Evil CEO of EI (played by Anthony Hopkins) who, in the film’s big twist (of course there’s a twist) doesn’t try to kill OPH. Oh no. Why should I try to do that? he asks. Yes, the information OPH has dug up is certainly embarassing. A veritable public relations disaster. But neither ECEO nor any other employee of the company can be subject to any legal action. Yes, some of the “children” died during the experiments, but to be prosecuted for murder, you have to kill a person, and none of these “children” were “people” under the law. They were…“products of conception”. “Blobs of tissue”. “Medical waste”. An aborted fetus has no rights under the law.

It seems the Bad Guys have Our Plucky Heroine backed into a corner. Heck, I don’t even see where she has legal grounds to get the surviving “children” out of their custody, or even to prevent them from doing further experiments, as it’s not against the law to use material from the “products of conception” in medical experiments (as per our assumption about fetal stem cells).
What I am trying to bring up for debate here, with my admittedly over-dramatized example, is, what is or ought to be the legal status of “children” who emerge from late term abortions, against all odds, alive? Are they, or should they be, consider “people” just as any other newborn is so considered? What grounds would anyone have to oppose such a thing?

The House addressed this issue a few years ago with something called “The Born Alive Infants Protection Act”. It was passed overwhelmingly by the House, opposed by pro-choice organizations, and iirc never became law…I don’t know if it was bottled up in the Senate, or vetoed by Clinton.

I think that the purposefull mis-conduction of a medical procedure, especially against the will of the patient (The mother), is illegal, so that would have to be done away with first…

And seeing as intent is nine tenths of the law (That’s how the saying goes, right?), I think a court could make a convincing case that, since the doctors were -trying- to keep the baby alive (Low success rates or not), they were conducting a birth instead of an abortion, and hence, the baby is legally a human being and with full rights.

Personally, I’d say that once a baby is born, it’s “alive”, regardless of wether it was an abortion or not…

Nice idea for a movie, but it seems about as plausible as Double Jeopardy.

Now, before the mods come yelling at me for making insults in GD, let me state that I’m comparing your POST to Double Jeopardy, not you, the person. :smiley:

Hmmmm…I think we can assume that the patients signed some kind of waiver, remember EI has clever lawyers. In any case, if the doctors were subject to some penalty for this, would it be anything close to what they deserve?

IANALawyer, so I don’t know about this. They were trying to keep the aborted fetuses alive, certainly, but they were intentionally trying to do so in a way in which the “children” would not be “persons” under the law.

I suppose it might boil down to, is your status as a legal person determined by what someone intended for you at the time of your birth?

A baby is clearly alive before it is born. But it is not considered a person under the law. The question is, does a child “born” from a botched abortion become a person?

I didn’t see that movie, but I remember the premise. A woman framed by her husband for killing him, gets out of jail, plots to do it for real, thinks she can get away with it because of double jeopardy, meaning she can’t be convicted of his murder again. Correct?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit, the scenario I’ve created here (apart from the legal analysis) is far fetched, probably even more so than that of the film you mentioned. But if you think my analysis of EI’s legal situation is flawed, I would like to hear why.

I doubt they’d be able to word it in a way that -purposefully- trying to get a “failure” would be acceptable. Waivers would cover accidental occurances, not purposeful ones, normally. However, since we’re talking a large amount of money, I’m pretty sure they’d be able to find people willing to sign a contract to whatever they want, so they may free themselves of the problems of mis-conducting the abortion against the mothers will…

That intent (doing so in a way in which the “children” would not be “persons”) would almost certainly be overriden by the first intent (Which is to keep the baby alive). It’s an absolute (Keeping the baby alive) versus an opinion (Wether they’re “people” or not). Keeping the baby alive -is- the primary intent. Since they’re mis-conducting the abortion with the intent to keep the baby alive, they’re conducting a birth. Wether they want the baby to be a “person” or not is irrelevant. (IANAL, but this seems correct)

Sorry, I should have said “person” there, instead of “alive”. In any case, my answer is a “yes”.

Whoa, that stinks! With a plot that bad, implausible, ludicrous, and polemic it might just have a chance in Hollywood. :smiley: Of course, as an important, plot development you forgot: Julia and Danzel with steal one of child and “adopt” it. The child is an extra super-genus, of course, and very good looking, naturally.

Like Phoenix Dragon, I think the deliberate misrepresentation of the medical procedure and hiding the true intent of the doctors would mean that an abortion was never preformed. ECEO would be in a heap of a lot of trouble.

But to address that main question, whether a botched abortion is a human with the rights and privileges of a citizen, I think it is important to allow the law to make that determination from the intent of the doctor and patient, and not an arbitrary and very rare occurrence of a live birth from a late term abortion.

originally posted by SPOOFE:

Yeah, tell me about it. Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington in a few scenes of “gratuitous nudity?” Yeesh, I’ll believe that when I see it.

Al, brother, you’ve really got to lay off all that glue-sniffin’, man.

Because, despite the anality of some court rulings and legal proceedings, ANY court will be capable of knowing that, just because these “people” were supposedly aborted fetuses, if they’re still alive and breathing and growing, they’re people.

It’s like if someone is legally declared dead, yet they miraculously recover, they’re still not “dead” in the eyes of the law.

Yes…keeping it alive. But you can obviously be alive and still not be a person (or citizen). At what point do the “children” in the scenario become “persons” under the law in a way that a “child” still alive after a botched abortion (in which all parties concerned wanted an abortion) does not?

Again, a lot of talk about “intent”…as I said in an earlier post, is your status as a legal person determined by what someone intended for you at the time of your birth?

And another thing…if it does depend on someone’s intent, shouldn’t it be the mother’s? After all, she is the one who has the right to an abortion, not the doctors. The “mothers” in this scenario all intended to have abortions, shouldn’t that be enough?

Ya, I can write bad screenplays with the best of them (or is that worst of them?)…but the issue it raises is no less pertinent for it.

Again with this “intention” business. See my response to Phoenix Dragon above.

Sigh I’ll see you in the other thread.

See my response to Phoenix Dragon where I ask “At what point do the “children” in the scenario become “persons”…” etc.

Did you read my previous posts? I already SAID that I don’t see any difference between those two scenarios, as far as wether the child is a “person” or not. IMO, if the child is “born” alive, it is a “person.” Wether it was an abortion or not shouldn’t make any difference.

No, and I never said it was. The whole matter of intent had to do with the opperation performed, not wether the baby was alive or dead. If they intened for the child to be kept alive, then they were conducting an actual birth and not an abortion. However, I only presented this as a SECONDARY legal recourse, since by the scenario you defined, it was fairly obvious that a child that is “born” despite an abortion is not really a “person”, as far as your little theoretical example world goes. If that isn’t the case, then the entire intent of the doctors is moot (Barring misconduct, of course).

I already addressed that in my first post. The mother’s intent was in regard to the opperation itself; Barring a waiver that voided responsibility for -purposefully- screwing up the opperation, the doctors (And company) could face legal action for intentionally mis-conducting a medical procedure (The company could face legal action for bribing the doctors, regardless of that waiver, BTW). However, to repeat myself one more time over the three posts now, if the child is born alive, it is a “person,” and therefor the intent of the mother as far as wether the child lives or dies is moot.

In any case, the doctors could face legal action if they caused the abortion to fail, even though they ment for it to succeede, just as with other medical actions (Though this would be less potent than any of the other legal actions mentioned above).

Sorry, but the plot has more holes in it than a screen door :slight_smile:

Perhaps I am becoming overly strident from my debate with Pyrrhonist in the other thread. Please understand, when you say “…if the child is ‘born’ alive, it is a ‘person.’ Wether it was an abortion or not shouldn’t make any difference” I agree with you. I also think that’s how it should be. The problem is, the law doesn’t seem to reflect our wishes, hence the relevence of my question.

Remember, I asked “At what point do the “children” in the scenario become “persons” under the law…”, not “When do they become “persons” in the learned estimations of Weird_Al_Einstein and Phoenix Dragon?”

Ya, well, that don’t stop 'em over in Hollywood :slight_smile: Of course the scenario is hokey and far fetched, but I still don’t see where my analysis of Evil Incorporated’s legal position is flawed.

When it becomes clear that, even after the abortion, the “abortee” has survived the procedure, it becomes a person. I don’t see how an aborted fetus is any different from a corpse other than the name.

Look, if you want to debate whether or not a fetus is a person, why don’t you just start a friggin’ thread about it - or, better yet, participate in one that’s currently in existence - and not bother with all this roundabout nonsense?

I don’t think that’s correct. Mind you, as I said in my last post, I do think that’s how it should be, but as I understand it, the law does not recognize a living child that is the product of a botched abortion as a person. If I am wrong about that, of course then my whole scenario goes poof.

But remember, we are not talking about whether or not the child actually is a person; I consider that a question for philosophers. We are talking about the much narrower issue of whether or not the law recognizes the child as a person.

No, no, I don’t want to debate that question…like I said, it is much to esoteric. What I want to debate is whether or not a living child “born” from a botched abortion ought be recognized by the law as a person, and whether such a child has, or ought to have, the equal protection of the laws as guaranteed in the 14th amendment.

If it’s living, breathing, and not reliant on an umbilical cord, it’s a person. Justice may be blind, but it’s not stupid.

The only time I can imagine this being questioned is within a very, very short time immediately following the abortion in question… if the “fetus” survives the procedure, it’s a person. And even then… again, if it’s breathing, has a heartbeat, etc… well, you get the idea.

Ok, once again, I agree that that’s how it should be, but is that what the law actually says? I don’t think so, but if someone knows different I would be very happy to hear it.

I find it curious that WAL continues to say

regardless of the fact that this is counter to all common and practical sense (which several other people have also asserted in this thread, so it’s not just MHO).

WAL: Why would you think there is a law that says this? What would be the possible motivation of creating such a law? Most importantly, since this seems like such an unlikely thing to claim, do you have a site that gives you any reason to make such an assertion?

Sounds like speculation, not proof. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that it is more likely such a law does not exist unless you convince us otherwise.

We seem to have a misunderstanding here. I do not assert that there is in any state a law that states specifically “Children born of botched abortions are not human.” What I am saying is that state laws do not take into account the possibility of such a thing, and that on the rare occasions when it does happen, doctors can and do…how shall I put this?..perform a post-abortion “termination” on the “fetus” for which they are not charged with any crime.

Just to show that my OP wasn’t totally ridiculous, I give you a link to this news story, from whence I got this quote:


Please note carefully the last sentence.

I am unaware of any state or federal law or precedent which treats born humans differently on the basis of the circumstances under which the delivery was accomplished. Children delivered by C-section are accorded the same rights and privileges as those delivered vaginally. Those born premature have the same rights and privileges as those born timely. Those born as a result of the mother’s going into labor after being punched in the gut or in a car wreck are just as human as those whose mothers go into labor naturally or induced by medication. As for the Constitution, it does not define when someone is a “person,” it defines when a person is a citizen of the United States and of the state in which they reside.

With all due respect, it matters not at all why some lower court judge or another may have invalidated a partial-birth abortion statute in light of the USSC decision in Nebraska v. Carhart. The Court held that Nebraska’s ban on partial-birth abortion (a term which, BTW, has no medical or legal meaning) was unconstitutional because it did not allow for an exception to preserve the health of the woman, it could potentially ban other abortion techniques than the one targeted by the law, and that it imposes an “undue burden” on a woman’s constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy.

From the same article:

I’ve never heard of birthing a child and then abandoning it to die being called “abortion” before. This strikes me as a perversion of the language of the abortion debate. Clearly, if the child is delivered alive and the mother abandons it to die, the child is “born” and a “person” and the mother has committed murder. I don’t think anyone in their right mind who supports a woman’s right to choose would condone actively or passively killing an actual live born child, and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would claim that a woman is entitled to kill a child born as the result of a botched abortion.

It turns out that Herr Doktor’s intent (und in the movee you vill call him Herr Doktor) doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Ditto for mom’s intent.

Thought I’d fire up the old 'puter and see what I could find on the subject. After a few seconds, I found this:

from HCA v. Miller, 36 S.W.3d 187, (Tex. App.–Hous.[14th])

Which led me to this:

which is from the Texas Family Code.

So, Weird Al, it might work in Hollywood, but it won’t work in Texas. My bet is that a perusal of the laws of other states will find similar provisions.