Citing the passage this week of a new bill recognizing non-viable human embryos as humans for the purposes of assault and murder prosecution, one lawmaker has declared she will seek further legislation next year which would allow an embryo to be tried as an adult.
“It’s really about fairness, about justice” said Rep. Shannon Hornberger, a second-term Representative from East Tennessee. “It’s great that the State of Tennessee has finally admitted that a person is a person, even before they’re a fetus, if they’re the victim of a crime, but what about when they’re actually the aggressor?! There can’t be half-measures in the quest for human rights and personhood; an embryo isn’t half a person. Technically maybe, but not symbolically!”
Rep. Hornberger’s announcement follows hard on the heels of Monday’s passage of House Bill 3517, a bill which changes existing language in state law regarding the prosecution of attacks on pregnant women. Under previous law, assailants could be tried for the assault, or murder, of an unborn fetus in addition to being charged with the attack on the mother. HB3517 rewrites the language to include embryos of less than six weeks of age, effectively recognizing them as humans just like any other victim. The bill has been highly controversial, with opponents claiming that it is a ploy to set precedents for later attacks by Pro-Lifers against the practice of abortion in Tennessee.
“The quest for official recognition of humanity from conception won’t be complete until an embryo can be tried for a crime, and tried as an adult!” Hornberger insisted to great applause at a campaign rally yesterday. If Rep. Hornberger’s proposed legislation were to pass next year, then it would largely be symbolic in nature, though legal experts speculate it could potentially have an effect on the upcoming trial of Mindy LeHaine, known better in the press as “The Pregnant Bandit”. LeHaine’s presently-unborn child would have been approximately 4 weeks into conception during her mother’s infamous bank robbery, which resulted in the accidental death of two bystanders. Were the yet-to-be-named LeHaine daughter to be convicted as an accessory to manslaughter, she’d be the second youngest person ever convicted in Tennessee, behind only Marcus Wilman of Soddy-Daisy who, in 1983, was technically convicted of bank fraud at the age of negative-twelve, due to a typographical error on his birth certificate.
Hornberger’s announcement yesterday signals a likely trend to come, as a floodgate of similar embryocentric legislation seems to already be queueing-up for the 2013 legislative session. Representative Jameson Hershfeld announced this morning that he will seek to ban fetuses from wearing saggy pants, and Sen. Colby Mathers has admitted to taking meetings with local NRA officials to discuss a possible “Guns-in-Wombs” bill, stating “If we take away the second ammendment rights from the unborn, what next?”
(State Capitol photo found at en.wikipedia.org)