Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Man Gets Life Under Fetal Protection Law

US: LUFKIN, Texas - A 19-year-old accused of causing his teenage girlfriend to miscarry two fetuses by stepping on her stomach was convicted Monday of two counts of murder.

Gerardo Flores received an automatic life sentence because prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, which was available under the state's 2003 fetus protection law.

Erica Basoria, 17, acknowledged asking Flores to help end her pregnancy; she could not be prosecuted because of her legal right to abortion.

The defense contended that Basoria punched herself while Flores was stepping on her, making it impossible to tell who caused the miscarriage.

Basoria told authorities that, after about four months of pregnancy, she regretted not getting an abortion and started jogging and hitting herself to induce a miscarriage. When her efforts failed, she said she asked her boyfriend to help.

Flores did not testify, but earlier told police that he stepped on Basoria's stomach several times during the week before she miscarried.

Prosecutor Art Bauereiss said most of Basoria's family was pleased with the jury's decision. But Basoria, who sobbed as she left the Angelina County Courthouse, had stood by Flores.

"It's just tragedy all around,'' said Flores' attorney, Ryan Deaton.

Texas law defines an embryo or fetus as an "individual'' and allows criminal prosecution or civil action for a preventable injury or death of a fetus. The law exempts health care providers who perform a legal medical procedure, such as an abortion.

By What Came First? 8 June 05