Wednesday, November 17, 2004

So Many Levels

Using a Louisville Slugger as a birth control device. The mind boggles.

It was an unwanted pregnancy, police said.

And for several weeks, her 16-year-old boyfriend struck her in the belly with a baseball bat in an effort to terminate her pregnancy, police said.

In October, the 16-year-old girl had a miscarriage in her Richmond Township house, said Michigan State Police Sgt. Jim Haggerty. Afterward, the teens wrapped the fetus in plastic and buried it in an open field in northern Macomb County’s Richmond Township, police said.

On Monday night, Michigan State Police officers unearthed the fetus, which was buried a couple hundred feet away from a house on Armada Ridge Road, near the border of Armada and Richmond townships.

It is unclear how long the teen was pregnant before she miscarried. An autopsy is scheduled for this morning.

The Macomb County Prosecutor’s Office is waiting for those autopsy results before determining what charges will be filed, said Assistant Prosecutor Eric Smith.

“The extent that they both went to terminate their pregnancy was shocking and disturbing,” Smith said.

Both of the teenagers’ parents were unaware of the pregnancy, he said, but knew about the miscarriage and fetus burial. The teens’ parents told police that a hospital informed them that the burial of the fetus was allowed.

There is no law in Michigan that specifies when terminating a pregnancy is equivalent to killing a baby. But Smith said case law indicates that the fetus must be able to survive outside of the womb for manslaughter charges to be considered. Officials declined to disclose the names of the teenage parents, but said they went to high school together.

Haggerty said neither of the teens’ parents knew the girl was pregnant. The sex of the fetus could not be determined Tuesday, officials said.

The teen mother was visiting friends recently in the Upper Peninsula when she told them about the fetus. The friends then went to police. A Michigan State Police detective from the Upper Peninsula’s Negaunee Post, near Marquette, called officers at the Richmond Post on Sunday to tell them about the buried fetus, Haggerty said.

Police said the property where the fetus was found did not belong to the mother’s family, but Haggerty declined to say who owned the house. [Detroit Free Press]

This story is tragic on so many levels. This is why I voted against the Parental Notification Amendment that was on the ballot in Florida this month. (It passed.) This is why I support Planned Parenthood, why I support teaching comprehensive sex education in school starting at Grade Six, and why overturning Roe v. Wade would lead to more stories like this, not less.