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IN THE COURTS | Texas Court Rules Law That Gives Fetuses Some Legal Protections Does Not Conflict With Roe

IN THE COURTS | Texas Court Rules Law That Gives Fetuses Some Legal Protections Does Not Conflict With Roe
[Nov. 27, 2007]

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday unanimously ruled that a 2003 state law declaring a fetus at any gestational age as an individual with legal protections does not conflict with Roe v. Wade, the AP/Google.com reports (AP/Google.com, 11/22). The ruling affirmed a previous ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas (Houston Chronicle, 11/22).

The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected an appeal by Terence Lawrence, who was convicted of killing a woman and her four- to six-week old fetus. Lawrence in an appeal argued that he should not have been prosecuted for the death of the fetus because it was not viable. According to the Texas ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has established that states do not have a compelling interest to interfere before a fetus is viable. The Supreme Court also has "emphasized that states may protect human life not only once the fetus has reached viability but 'from the outset of the pregnancy.'"

As a result, the Texas Legislature is "free to protect the lives of those whom it considers to be human beings," the Texas court said. Presiding Judge Sharon Keller added that the "compelling state interest" test, along with the "accompanying 'viability' threshold, has no application to a statute that prohibits a third party from causing the death" of a fetus against the will of the pregnant woman (AP/Google.com, 11/22).