Russell and Duenes

The Keeler Case and Murdering Your Child

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In Criminal Law we have, of course, studied the issue of murder. We began the semester discussing the question: When does someone become a human being? We need to determine this so that we can know if a murder has taken place, since the textbook definition of murder includes, in part, the intentional and unlawful killing of one human being by another human being. And one of the cases we looked at is a rather famous one: Keeler v. Superior Court of Amador County, 470 P.2d 617 (Cal. 1970).

In this case, the Petitioner, a Mr. Keeler, finds out that his ex-wife is pregnant by another man. Extremely upset at this, he confronts her and says, “I’m going to stomp it out of you.” He then proceeds to physically attack her, during the course of which he knees her in the abdomen. Her child is killed as a result. At trial, Mr. Keeler was charged with murder, but he appealed, based on a writ of prohibition, claiming that he could not be guilty of murder on the facts. The court agreed with him and issued the writ. Our textbook then says something very telling:

“Following the decision in Keeler, the California legislature amended the provisions of the Penal Code § 187, which defines murder, to include killing ‘a fetus,’ except in cases of legal abortion and certain other cases or when the killing was with the consent of the mother.” (Weinreb, Lloyd L. Criminal Law: Cases, Comments, Questions (New York: Foundation Press, 2003).) [emphasis mine]

Let’s see: If someone other than the mother kills the fetus, then the fetus is a human being, and it’s murder under section 187 of the CA Penal Code. But if it’s “with the consent of the mother,” then, what? I guess it’s a blob of tissue or something? So all we have to do is call it “abortion” instead of “murder” and it’s all legal and legit? I didn’t realize that mothers had the ability to determine the essential humanity of their children. But I guess if the courts say so.

Hence, our unborn babies will be protected from the worst sort of vile human beings, like Mr. Keeler, but from their own mothers, they’ll receive no protection at all, and in some circles, not only will they receive no protection, babies will be identified as such a problem as to be positively put in harms way by their mothers. You tell me what this amounts to.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

October 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm

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