Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Defining Unborn Child as "Person" In Murder Law Upheld

In Eguia v. State of Texas, (TX Ct. App., Nov. 20, 2008), a Texas appellate court upheld appellant's conviction for murdering a woman and her unborn child. The court rejected appellant's constitutional challenge to the Texas statute that defines an unborn child as a "person" for purposes of the capital murder statute. (TX Penal Code 1.07(a)(26)). Jacob Eguia contended that this definition violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Art. I, Sec. 6 of the Texas Constitution that bars giving preference by law to any religion. Holding that "a statute is not automatically rendered unconstitutional simply because it advances ideals that harmonize with religious ideals," the court found that the statute meets the Lemon test. It concluded that "the State has a legitimate secular interest in protecting mothers and their unborn children throughout the mother’s pregnancy