Friday, April 17, 2009

Conviction For Killing Unborn Child Does Not Violate Establishment Clause

Sanders v. State of Texas, (TX App., April 2, 2009), is an appeal by defendant who was convicted of capital murder for causing the death of Angela Alex and her unborn child. The Texas Penal Code prohibits intentionally and knowingly causing the death of any "individual", and defines "individual" as including "an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth." (Sec. 1.07). In affirming appellant's conviction, the Texas appellate court held that this definition of "individual" does not violate the Establishment Clause. It rejected appellant's argument that the definition amounted to an endorsement of religious groups that believe life begins at conception. The court said that the definition furthers the state's legitimate secular interest in protecting unborn children from the criminal act of others.