(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

When does life legally, morally or religiously begin? This is a question that “pro-life” and “pro-choice” groups have been battling ever since the Roe (Norma Leah McCorvey) v. Wade (Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade) Supreme Court Decision of 1973.

When Does Life Begin?

As you can imagine it’s just not that simple.

For most people you simply take a trip down to your local abortion clinic and they will fix you up in a short amount of time. No questions asked.

But, if you are pregnant, and murdered, then things change.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-212) is a United States law which recognizes a child in utero as a legal victim, if they are injured or killed during the commission of any of over 60 listed federal crimes of violence.

The law defines "child in utero" as "a member of the species Homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

In other words a “legal crime victim.” You can be a victim and a person — sort of.

The law is codified in two sections of the United States Code: Title 18, Chapter 1 (Crimes), §1841 (18 USC 1841) and Title 10, Chapter 22 (Uniform Code of Military Justice) §919a (Article 119a).

State Laws Vary

Thirty-six states have harsh penalties for the murder of a pregnant woman. In some states the fetus is described as being a living person, “for the purpose of criminal prosecution of the offender.” (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2008.)

When Does Death Begin?

No one questions when death begins. Why not? —Because it’s the natural order of things — We all die. But not all of us are allowed to live.

But since it is so difficult to agree on when life begins I wonder if it’s any easier to define when death begins?

I suppose if you are a prisoner on death row having your last meal you could say death began when you planned your crime.

Or, if it were a spontaneous act of violence, it would be when you committed the crime. Others might say you were just “born bad.”

And there is a pretty good chance you’ll be well aware of your time of death.

Organ Donor

I’m an organ donor. I always thought organ donation should be something you opt out of, not have to choose to opt into. Organ donation should be automatic if the organs are viable.

I mean I’m dead. Pretty much don’t need those corneas anymore. But you need my permission to take them?

Liver, lungs, heart, go for it. Whatever you need. Knock yourself out.

Some Final Thoughts

I am the last person we need to determine when life begins. Most of us have formed an answer to that question that works for each of us. It’s nice to be able to consolidate this in your own mind.

However there is a heart, liver, and lungs that get no say in the final decision. Much like the mother who was murdered carrying her unborn child. She had no say in the matter. Dead is dead. She was murdered.

I wonder what choice she might have made if given the opportunity to choose? Or was she just another unwilling organ donor?

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