Twins Die But Their Murder May Not Be A Crime

A very sad story is unfolding in Indianapolis, Indiana. Katherin Shuffield, a 30-year-old bank teller, expecting to give birth to twins in a few months, was wounded during a bank robbery Tuesday, April 22. Katherin subsequently lost both of her preborn children. The gunshot did not kill the children but the complications that set in after Katherin was wounded led to the death of the two children.

In response to this tragic loss Huntington Bank issued a statement in which they said:

No amount of time will replace the loss of their unborn children. We hope that Katherin's physical recovery comes quickly. To Katherin and her husband, Jason, you are in our thoughts and prayers. To their parents and family also experiencing their pain — we share your sorrow and, too, keep you in our prayers.

Further, the management of the bank pledged full support to the Indianapolis Police and FBI in identifying and convicting the person who shot Katherin. However there is some confusion about what precisely the bank robber could be charged with when it comes to the crime of killing the twins. One of Katherin’s neighbors told the newspaper that the robber “should be tried for two murders,” but law enforcement is not so sure.

David Wyser, the Marion County prosecutor’s chief trial deputy told the press during a news conference that "murder would not apply, because Shuffield was five months pregnant; under Indiana law, fetuses are considered viable at seven months, and only then would the twins have been considered murder victims."

He did say, however, that if they are able to find the shooter, "potential charges would include feticide, a Class C felony." According to Indiana law a Class C felony would result in a two-year sentence, if indeed the shooter is found and then tried and convicted. Two years in prison for the murder of two preborn children. If this sounds outrageous to you, then hear me out, please.

First of all, Indiana law establishes an arbitrary delineation: prior to seven months of age, the preborn child is not a human being and a crime resulting in that child’s death cannot be defined as murder. Here is what that means in plain English:

(a)    The child who is six months, 25 days of age in the womb is not a human being, but
(b)    the child who is seven months of age in the womb is a human being.

This is the sort of law that not only creates confusion for average citizens but injustice in the courts. Such laws smack of the very kind of hypocrisy that we see over and over again as pro-life experts examine laws dealing with the identity of the child prior to birth.

This is the reason why personhood, which should be the goal of all pro-life legislative efforts, is so important. Feticide should be the equivalent of homicide, but as the deputy pointed out to the media in the case of the twins, it is not the same.

In fact, in reading Indiana’s legal definitions, we find the following with regard to feticide :

A person who knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus commits feticide, a Class C felony. This section does not apply to an abortion performed in compliance with …

In other words, if Katherin had sought an abortion, no charges would have been brought against the abortionist, but the shooter in the bank robbery may be charged with feticide. Prosecutors will have to prove that the shooter “intentionally” brought about the death of the twins. Tragically that is the legal situation at present in Indiana. So it is quite possible that at the end of the trial, if indeed they find the shooter, he will be charged with nothing at all relating to the death of these two babies.

We mourn with the Shuffields during this dreadful time in their lives and we pray that Katherin fully recovers from the gunshot wound she received. We pray that the spiritual and psychological wounds caused by the deaths of their twins will be healed through the love of Christ and the support of family and friends.

On another level, I pray that each of us is renewed in our resolve as principled pro-lifers to do all we can to focus attention on personhood, to define every innocent preborn child as an equal member of the human race and to expect that law will reflect justice that is equitable for all people, born and preborn.

Remember: As long as abortion is protected by law in any circumstance there is no genuine justice in America.