8 Comments

  1. Cathi De Genova

    I think the case hinged on the fact that in order to receive survivor benefits you were first being supported by the now deceased father. In this case the twins were never supported by their father.

    • Hi Cathi. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I believe you are correct. What’s interesting is precisely why the Court asserted that point matters. Ginsburg wrote that the core purpose of the legislation was not to create some sort of general welfare program but to specifically provide one’s dependents with protection against the hardship caused by loss of earnings upon one’s death. Yet, federal law apparently provides that if a a father dies while the child is in utero, the child still benefits. To me, this seems to assert that, if the father is living, the child attains benefit rights at the point of conception.

  2. Andrew

    It would seem that no one, even those who are directly affected by the case, can account for every possible angle, even if emotions could somehow be set aside. My first thought upon hearing about this on the radio yesterday was that SCOTUS does not want the mother (and others as a result of the precedent they would have likely created by ruling for her) to abuse the system. On the other hand, the ruling seems to be odds with governmental policies that allow other people to abuse the system. I agree that the foot needs to be put down somewhere, but lets be consistent about it.

    • Hi Andrew; great to hear from you! :) I thought precisely the same thing when I read Ginsburg’s point about remembering that the path to receipt of benefits must be in line with the core purpose the benefits exist in the first place. The decision seems to draw a line limiting the governmental financial support to which one is entitled simply by one’s existence. I wonder what implications this decision might potentially have with respect to how certain federal assistance programs are administered in the future.

  3. Was it the Scott Brown murder case a few years ago that also presented a glimmer of hope that the courts were ruling in favor of classifying a fetus as a person? Didn’t he murder his pregnant wife – but was found guilty of 2 counts of murder?
    The courts determined that if SOMEONE ELSE kills your child in utero it’s murder – but if you “decide to terminate your pregnancy” (all about the wording), it’s legal.
    It would be terrific if our society was inching closer to determine that life begins at conception, by establishing precedence in court cases.

    • Hi Jessica! Thanks for commenting; excellent point. I believe several states have laws that provide for double homicide charges in the murder of a pregnant woman. We intuitively understand that such laws implicitly confer in utero personhood on the deceased baby. However, I think the courts generally view the death of the baby as an aggravating factor in the crime of murdering the mother, kind of like burning down the victim’s house, for example. This essentially treats the baby as the mother’s property, not a unique person, just as you suggested. Accordingly, the jump to personhood from such double homicide laws hasn’t happened, yet. However, as more such pieces of the truth leak into the justice system, the rationale against in utero personhood should only become more contrived. The veneer is wearing thin and cracking.

  4. That is fascinating! I suppose that given my own belief system, I just assumed that the law conferred in utero personhood, as you said – not “the baby is the mother’s property.”
    Is the term murder instead of ‘involuntary’ homicide (of a would-be person) used? (the parentheses comment is my sarcastic comment)
    It is very fascinating/interesting.
    May the light reveal what we know to be true in our hearts!

    • I don’t know. The media often report the charges as being ‘double murder’, but whether any given state law actually uses that specific terminology is anyone’s guess. If it is used, some level of personhood certainly seems to be implied. One might envision the murder of fetus could potentially have a special legal classification and carry different penalties. However, I doubt many legislators, no matter what their ideology, would be comfortable going down the slippery slope of applying different laws to various classes of persons. History tells us that’s never ended well.

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