NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: legal protections for unborn babies in Alabama.
Now, the backdrop is gruesome.
Jessie Phillips shot and killed his 23-year-old wife Erica at a car wash. Their two minor children were with them. And the kids didn’t know it, but they had a sibling: Mrs. Phillips was 6 to 8 weeks pregnant.
The death of the unborn child, under Alabama law, means that Phillips had killed two people. The Alabama Supreme Court upheld his conviction on October 19 in a unanimous ruling.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: Samantha Gobba has been following this story and is on the line to talk about it. Samantha, the law in Alabama very particularly addresses the unborn. Tell us how it does that.
SAMANTHA GOBBA, REPORTER: Right, it does. Under a 2006 law called the Brody Act, Alabama very clearly classifies unborn children as humans with equal protections under the law, same as everyone else. And that act, the Brody Act, is named for another unborn baby who died very tragically after his mother was shot and killed in 2005 and she was 8 months pregnant. So, Alabama doles out the death penalty for two more people, in one action or series of actions, and under the Brody Act this qualifies as a double murder.
REICHARD: So the Brody Act is the basis for Phillips’ conviction in the murder of his unborn child. The Alabama Supreme Court seemed to go above and beyond upholding Phillips’ conviction, though. It directly addressed the US Supreme Court. What did it say?
GOBBA: It did. The unanimous court wrote—quote—”The value of the life of an unborn child is no less than the value of the lives of the other persons.” And Justice Tom Parker wrote in a separate concurring opinion calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to actually overturn Roe v. Wade because it simply doesn’t mesh with what he called a growing list of broad legal protections for unborn children. And he said, “The Roe exception is the last remaining obstacle to the state’s ability to protect the God-given respect and dignity of the unborn human life. I urge the Supreme Court of the United States to reconsider the Roe exception and to overrule this constitutional aberration. Return the power to the states to fully protect the most vulnerable among us.”
REICHARD: Strong words, indeed. You’ve looked into what other states do as far as protection of the unborn. What did you find?
GOBBA: So, Alabama is one of 38 states with fetal homicide laws and those range from a capital offense, of course, to just some prison time, and it’s a really sad irony because if a woman decides she wants to end her baby’s life, an abortionist can do that without ever facing charges. So, the most recent state to add protections for the unborn was Indiana, and it did that back in April, becoming the 23rd state to protect through all nine months. And in Colorado we reported in 2016 on a very grisly case where a woman lured a pregnant woman to her home by a Craigslist ad, and while the woman was there, she attacked her, cut her uterus open with kitchen knives, removed the unborn baby and the baby died. But the woman was only charged with attempted first degree murder. More recently in New York, which doesn’t have any fetal homicide laws, a woman was driving and struck several pedestrians with her car and she killed actress Ruthie Ann Miles’ five year old daughter, a one year old boy, and she caused Miles to miscarry. And she faced no charges at all for the death of Miles’ unborn daughter. And that came out in May. In the same month, a Virginia doctor lost his medical license and faced three years in prison for putting abortion drugs into his ex-girlfriend’s cup of tea.
REICHARD: So these are all conflicts of laws that don’t really make any logical sense. What is the significance of this particular case, the Phillips ruling?
GOBBA: You just don’t see a lot of judicial opinions coming out in such a strong defense of the unborn. So, that’s what makes this case stand out so much. And it could prove sort of a hinge pin if the U.S. Supreme Court were to ever consider taking up a case that would once again classify unborn babies as fully human.
REICHARD: It’s still early days after this ruling came in. Do we know what the next steps might be?
GOBBA: So, it’s been pretty quiet so far and I haven’t seen anything in terms of an appeal. I think the pro-abortion side would be nervous to bring this before the Supreme Court because they know who is on the Supreme Court right now and they wouldn’t want to risk bringing a case that could potentially overturn Roe v. Wade.
REICHARD: Samantha Gobba reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital. Thanks, Samantha, for this report.
GOBBA: Hey, thanks for having me on.