Michael Fletcher murdered his wife and unborn child
We have been engaging in a sometimes good, oftentimes merely semantic, (aka typically libertarian) debate on abortion on this site for several days. The trigger was David Swindle’s slightly improved take on the old saw, “If abortion is murder, why don’t you want to prosecute it like murder?”
As John Nampion mentioned too briefly, sometimes we do. In many states, if an unborn child is killed while a crime is being committed—particularly one that also leads to the death of the mother—the criminal is charged with its death.
So my question for the people who think the above conundrum is a real stumper is this: Why is it murder if a convenience store stickup man kills a fetus, but is it a legitimate source of income if a “doctor” does it?”
I have an unfortunately close take on the case that led to the Michigan law covering such cases, informally known as “the Fletcher bill.”
In the summer of 2000, Michael Fletcher, a Macomb County lawyer shot and killed his pregnant wife because he was having an affair with a district judge who was one of my clients. He tried to make it look like his wife, Leanne, had been cleaning one of his guns and accidentally killed herself. This fooled police for about 5 minutes.
Fletcher was charged with the death of both Leanne and their baby, initially. However, there was a loophole in Michigan’s law that said a miscarriage or stillborn birth must occur before a murder or manslaughter charge could be brought. (A similar justification is used in the case of partial birth abortion– a baby is not a baby until it’s fully out of the mother.)
The outrage from this case led to the Michigan legislature closing that loophole. So my question again: Why can future Michael Fletchers be charged with two murders, while Planned Parenthood can kill hundreds of babies per week whose crime, like the Fletcher baby, is merely being inconvenient?
One other note: These purely philosophical arguments sometimes frustrate me. The idea that abortion must be prosecuted “like murder” if it is made illegal has no practical application to the real world. At one time or another, abortion was illegal in all 50 states. At no time were mothers sent to prison, nor were doctors charged with similar sentences to murder. Penalties ranged from fines, loss of license, and misdemeanors. If it was ever a felony, it certainly never carried the threat of life in prison or a death sentence. Sorry to be so practical.