Facts You Did Not Know about McDonald’s Coffee Case

 
As I sat in the McDonald’s drive through this morning, waiting for a cup of coffee, I thought about the case that was on everyone’s mind 18 years ago.

For almost two decades, the McDonald’s coffee case has been the poster child for tort reform in the U. S. Every time I interview a jury panel in a civil case, the McDonald’s coffee case comes up as an example of runaway jury verdicts. There never is enough time to educate the jury panel about the actual facts of the case, nor would I be able to change some of their minds, even if I could tell them what the case was about. However, the case can be instructive to all of us in drawing conclusions from a situation without knowing all of the facts.

Most people on my jury panels think that a woman drove up to a McDonald’s drive through, ordered coffee, put the cup between her legs, and while driving and trying to fiddle with the coffee, spilled it on herself. Because she suffered a slight burn and sued McDonald’s, some liberal runaway jury awarded her millions leaving her without damage and a huge windfall. Here is the Paul Harvey “rest of the story.” You decide whether the jury was out to lunch, or if the decision that they made was more rational than you first thought.

In 1992, Stella Liebeck, 79, was riding in her grandson’s car. He bought her a cup of 49-cent coffee at the drive through and pulled into a parking space at the Albuquerque McDonald’s so that both could put cream and sugar in their coffee. While removing the lid, Ms. Liebeck, who was the passenger, spilled the entire contents of the cup into her lap. She was wearing sweatpants which absorbed the liquid and held it next to her skin. The coffee caused third degree burns to her groin, inner thighs and buttocks in less than 7 seconds. She was hospitalized for eight days where she underwent skin grafting and debridement (dead skin removal) treatments. Click here for a picture of her burns. (Warning – these are graphic)

After being discharged from the hospital, Ms. Liebeck attempted to settle with McDonald’s for $20,000, which was basically her out of pocket expenses. At the time, her medical expenses were $10,500, her future medical expenses were estimated at $2,500 and her loss of income was approximately $5,000. McDonald’s offered her $800. At mediation prior to the trial, the mediator, a retired state judge, advised McDonald’s to accept the $225,000 settlement proposed by Liebeck, but McDonald’s refused to settle and demanded a jury trial. Here is what the jury heard as reported in the Wall Street Journal on September 1, 1994:

1. McDonald’s operations and training manual requires its coffee to be brewed at 195 to 205 degrees and held at 180 to 190 degrees.
2. No other coffee establishment in Albuquerque kept its coffee at a temperature above 160 degrees. Home coffee makers generally maintain coffee at 135-140 degrees.
3. McDonald’s had received at least 700 complaints of coffee burns from 1982 to 1992, and had settled claims arising from scalding injuries for more than $500,000.
4. McDonald’s quality assurance manager testified that McDonald’s was aware of the fact that their coffee caused serious burns, but the company had not chosen to consult any burn experts and he said that they had no plans to change their policies. He also stated that even though most people did not realize that serious burns were possible from a coffee spill, McDonald’s had decided not to warn their customers about this possibility. Further, he testified that coffee at 180 degrees was not fit for human consumption because it would burn the mouth and throat, and cause full thickness burn injuries to the skin in only 2-7 seconds.
5. Robert Knaff, a human factors engineer and defense witness, testified that hot coffee burns were “statistically insignificant” to McDonald’s when compared to the number of cups of coffee that McDonald’s served.
6. Dr. Charles Baxter, a burn specialist who examined President Kennedy and Governor Connally on November 22, 1963, testified that coffee served at 180 degrees was excessive and could not be consumed at that temperature, confirming McDonald’s own testimony that it was not fit for human consumption.
7. Dr. Kenneth Diller, a thermodynamicist, asserted that McDonald’s was serving an unreasonably dangerous product.
8. Ms. Liebeck suffered third degree burns on her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genitals. She was disabled for a period of two years and has permanent scars over 16 percent of her body.

The jury was at first annoyed that it had to waste its time listening to a case about spilled coffee. After seeing the photographs and listening to the evidence, it took just four hours to award Ms. Liebeck $200,000 in compensatory damages. The jury did not leave Ms. Liebeck blameless, finding that she was 20% responsible, which reduced her award to $160,000. The jury then awarded $2.7 million in punitive damages because they found that McDonald’s conduct was willful, reckless, or malicious. They arrived at this figure by equating it with only two days of McDonald’s coffee sales ($1.35 million per day). This, the jury reasoned, would be a “statistically insignificant” figure to McDonald’s.  New Mexico law limits punitive damages to three times the compensatory damages, so the judge reduced the punitive damage amount to $480,000 (three times $160,000). McDonald’s argued that the punitive damages should be thrown out entirely. However, Judge Scott stated that the punitive damages were justified in light of the “willful, wanton, reckless and what the court called callous” conduct of McDonald’s. (Associated Press, “Ruling Eases Heat on McDonald’s; Restaurant Will Still Appeal Coffee Verdict,” Wichita Eagle, September 15, 1994).

The media tried to paint Stella Liebeck as a greedy, money-hungry, frivolous lawsuit advocate. Most were just too lazy to find out the actual facts. Some simply wanted to use this as a platform to further the agenda of tort reform, and knew that the public would not take the time see if their version of the McDonald’s coffee case was the truth.

Hopefully, when someone brings up the McDonald’s coffee case as an example of frivolous lawsuits, you can say, “I wouldn’t have traded places with Ms. Liebeck for $640,000, would you?”

© Bruchez & Goss 2012
 

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One Lawyer Standing Up to State Power

 
The State is taking your children. You have no money to fight it, and you can’t even be in court to testify at the hearing. This is every parent’s nightmare: Your kids are gone and no one is there to stand up for you. This is the story of one lawyer who stood between government and the right of an individual.

Last Friday, a case was handed down by the Texas Supreme Court which caught my attention. The case involved the termination of parental rights of a father, a subject which I know nothing about and a field in which I do not practice. What caught my attention was that Judy Hodgkiss, a lawyer from Paris, Texas, took on the State of Texas and refused to allow the state to run over her client, who had had no money, no power, and no standing in society.

Francisco Lopez, a citizen and a resident of Mexico came to the United States illegally. He was convicted of some offense (the opinion does not say) in Wisconsin many years before coming to Texas and put on probation. He left Wisconsin without completing his probation, and moved to Texas, where he met Edna. The two married and had two children. Francisco worked and supported his wife and two children, and a child previously born to Edna. Francisco decided that he wanted a green card so that he would be “legal”, and went to the Dallas immigration office. For his troubles, because he had left Wisconsin in violation of his probation, he was arrested, jailed and deported to Mexico, where he is today.

Francisco continued to send money and clothes to Edna for the children. He called and talked to his two children about three times per week and Francisco’s father, who lived in Texas legally would also visit the children, provide monetary support, and on several occasions traveled with them to Mexico to see Francisco. Edna testified that Francisco was a good father who provided support for his children.

Unknown to Francisco, Edna periodically gave the children Tylenol PM to make them sleep and in 2009 was arrested for DWI while one of the minors was in the car. This prompted Child Protective Services to take the children away from Edna and put them in foster care. CPS then filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of both Francisco and Edna.

The trial court found in favor of CPS, and terminated both Francisco and Edna’s parental rights. Francisco appealed.

Enter Judy Hodgkiss, a lawyer from Paris, Texas who was appointed by the court to handle the appeal. She leveled the playing field and stood between the power of the government and the powerless. Without her help, Francisco had not been able to navigate the legal mine field in order to protect his parental rights. Because of her skill and willingness to ensure that Francisco’s rights were not violated, she protected all of our rights. Listen to what the Supreme Court said about the proceedings in the trial court:

“A court cannot terminate a person’s parental rights unless the State proves by clear and convincing evidence that the parent engaged in certain proscribed conduct, as specified in the Family Code, and that termination is in the best interest of the children. In this case, an immigrant convicted in another state of unlawful conduct with a minor and given a probated sentence years before his children were born was later deported to Mexico. The State relied on these facts in petitioning to terminate this father’s parental rights, yet put on no evidence concerning the offense committed years earlier, nor the circumstances of his deportation… Deportation flowing from an unknown offense occurring many years earlier cannot satisfy the State’s burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that a parent engaged in an endangering course of conduct, nor can mere guesswork undergird such a finding.”

The Supreme Court reasoned further that Francisco had done everything he could to be a good father and to provide support for his children.

It is frightening that any one of us might be the target of the full power of the government. If we do not protect the rights of those with no money, no power and no status, the constitutional freedoms of everyone are in jeopardy. And for those with children, there is no freedom more sacred than the ability to love and raise those children. I salute Judy Hodgkiss for standing up to the government and providing a level playing field.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012

 

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Is Big Brother Watching You?

 

My wife and I have a ten year old granddaughter that lives with us, and I have been thinking about what to expect when she begins driving.  Unlike when I was sixteen and began driving a beat up 1961 VW bug that cost $150, she will be driving a vehicle that is equipped with GPS so that we will be able to see where the vehicle is at all times.  Thank God my father did not have that option.
 
That started me thinking about who else might be tracking her, or me for that matter.   Like the rest of you, I have an expectation of privacy when I get into my vehicle.  This is exactly the same way I feel when I am in my house.  I do not want other people to know what I am saying or doing in my house, and I do not want other people to know where I am going, where I have been, or what I am saying while I am in my car, unless I tell them.
 
In the 1940’s, George Orwell wrote a novel about what he thought the future might look like in 1984. Most of you remember Big Brother from the novel: The all-knowing and all-seeing government that peeked into every home through a camera in the television. A recent federal court decision could be bringing us closer to George Orwell’s 1984, than we may have thought possible.  The Ohio court held that Big Brother does not have to worry about obtaining a warrant if they want to keep tabs on you by using your cell phone signal.  Your cell phone sends out a signal several times a minute to the nearest cell towers to let the towers know where to send the signal if you get a call.  This occurs even when you turn your cell phone off.  The only way to prevent this is to take your battery out.  And since you can’t take your battery out of an iPhone, this is almost impossible for the 73 million iPhone users.
 
The court stated that police convenience and efficiency override your 4th Amendment right to privacy.  This same argument could also be made as to why police should be able to search houses, and cars without warrants.  It would be much more efficient and convenient for them if police did not have to convince a judge that there was a good reason to search your house or car.  The argument of convenience and efficiency over individual freedom reminds us of Germany in the 1930’s.  The Nazi’s were brutally efficient, and once they targeted a group, they certainly did not concern themselves with the niceties of individual freedoms.
 
While the determination of this case does not mean that our country can be equated with 1930’s Germany, it does mean that we should be concerned about the fact that some of our freedoms are being eroded.  A government (police) that has the right to exempt itself from respecting individual constitutional freedoms in the name of efficiency is exactly what our founders were attempting to prevent.  A government that has the ability to ignore individual freedoms can do wonderful things in the name of security and protection.  However, if used oppressively, such as targeting Vietnam peace protesters (Nixon), groups such as Occupy Wall Street, or any other group that is a threat to those in power, it can turn into a totalitarian state faster than we can fall down the proverbial slippery slope.
 
One of our greatest statesman and philosophers, Benjamin Franklin summed it up best when he said:
 
                        “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security
                          will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
 
It was true then.  It remains true today.

Of course, since my granddaughter cannot have an expectation of privacy if I am supplying the vehicle, I intend to keep an eye on her GPS!
 
© Bruchez & Goss 2012

 

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Are Non Compete Agreements Legal in Texas?

 

You’ve decided you want to leave your job and start out on your own doing the same type of business and your employer tells you that in the fine print of all that paperwork you signed on the first day, there’s a non-compete clause. What is that? You wonder “is this legal?” Can my employer really keep me from working at what I have been doing for years?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. While non compete agreements are generally frowned upon, in Texas, they are enforceable as long as the term of the agreement (length) and the geographical limit are both reasonable.

Reasonable Limits
If your sales area is Brazos County and each of the counties that touch Brazos County, it would be unreasonable to preclude someone from competing against you in the entire State of Texas. The geographic limit should be no greater than your sales area. Likewise, the time that you can extend a non compete must be consistent with the information that you are trying to protect. Generally a six month to one year time frame is considered reasonable, while anything over two years is closely scrutinized to make sure that the information you are trying to protect warrants such a lengthy non compete.

Consideration (what the employer gives for your agreement not to compete)
Non compete agreements must have separate consideration for the agreement to be valid, however money cannot be the consideration for a non compete agreement. In other words, an employer cannot simply pay you $10,000 for your agreement not to compete against him for a two year period. Why not you ask? The Texas Supreme Court has pronounced that the payment of money is not an interest worthy of protecting. There must be something that the employer is trying to protect such as the employer’s “secret information”. The courts call this information “confidential information” and it consists of such things as prospective or existing customer list, specialized operating procedures, formulas for your products, trade secrets, specialized training techniques, pricing information, etc. Unlike money, these are all things that the employer has an interest in protecting.

Prior to 2006
Non compete agreements in Texas were virtually unenforceable prior to 2006 because the consideration had to be given to the employee at the very time that he signed the agreement, or the contract was void. This meant that the employer had to provide you with all of the “secret information” at the very moment that you executed the employment contract. This did not happen very often for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that employers did not usually hand all of the keys to the kingdom to you prior to determining if you are going to work out. Furthermore, it is very impractical to get all of the secret information to you on the day you sign the employment contract.

After 2006
In 2006, the Texas Supreme Court said that while the agreement may not be enforceable against the employee from the beginning because the employer has not provided you with the promised consideration (i.e. confidential information), the employer can make the agreement enforceable by later actually providing you with the confidential information. Agreements that were once fatally flawed can now be enforced.

The area of non compete agreements can be very complex and each case must be analyzed. If you have any questions about non compete agreements, call our firm for an appointment.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012

 

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“At Will” Employment in Texas

 
Can an employee be fired even if she has had excellent job performance? Surprisingly, the answer in Texas is yes. Under the at-will employment doctrine in Texas, an employer may generally terminate an employee without fear of legal repercussions for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. The only exceptions prohibit an employer from discriminating against an individual on the basis of race, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or age. As long as an employer is not basing a decision on one of the above enumerated reasons, employers have the absolute right to hire or fire the employees working for them.

I receive frequent calls from distraught clients who claim that they have just been terminated for no reason. In fact, they received an outstanding report on their last evaluation. Under Texas law, as long as the reason for the termination is not based on race, disability, religion, sex, national origin, or age, the employer is free to chose whom he or she wants to employ. The Texas legislature has determined that it is desirable for a business to be able to chose its workers and it wants business to be able to change employees without having to worry about being sued. Once hired, an employee does not have a “right” to continue in his or her job. The continuation of employment is completely up to the employer and what the employer deems best for his business. Likewise, the employee is not obligated to continue his employment if he has a better opportunity or simply does not like the work environment. The employer has no recourse against an employee, even if the employee leaves the employer at a very critical time in the employer’s business.

An employee is not “at will” if the employee has signed an employment contract, or is a member of a labor union. In the case of a contract, the terms of the contract will govern the rights of the employee. Typical employment contracts will be for a specific time limit, such as two years, and will state that the employment cannot be terminated without “good cause.” In the case of a labor union, the terms of the labor agreement will dictate under what terms the employee may be terminated. In these cases, the employer must show that the reason that the employee was terminated fits into the definition of “good cause” under the agreement.

If you have any questions about employment situations, contact our office for an appointment.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012
 

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Is an Oral Contract Just as Binding as a Written One?

 

Many people have come into my office and said that another person did not live up to an agreement, but since it was not in writing, they do not think they can do anything about it. They are surprised when I tell them that this is not necessarily so.

An oral agreement is just as binding as a written agreement. The problem with an oral agreement is proving the terms of that agreement. By the time the situation gets to the point of seeing a lawyer, both parties have a different version of the terms of the original agreement. In court, a party must prove what the original terms of the agreement were, and that the other party did not live up to their part of the agreement. This proof does not have to be “beyond a reasonable doubt” as in criminal cases, but the much lower standard of “by a preponderance of the evidence,” or more likely than not.

One of the easiest methods of proving an oral agreement is to have a witness who heard the agreement being made. That witness can come in the form of a person, or it can be from an audio or video recording. Additionally, documents which were created at the time of the agreement such as checks, letters, photographs or other items could be used to prove what the terms of the agreement actually were.

The bottom line is that the terms of written contracts are easier to prove in court, but they are no less binding than the oral versions.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012
 

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Congratulations on Recognition of Super Lawyers

 

Bruchez & Goss would like to congratulate Ernie Bruchez and Jay Goss on their inclusion in the 2012 edition of the Business Edition of Super Lawyers, published by Texas Monthly. Mr. Bruchez was selected in the area of Environmental Law and Mr. Goss was selected in the area of Business Litigation. The Super Lawyer selection process is a comprehensive, good-faith and detailed attempt to produce a list of lawyers that have attained high peer recognition, meet ethical standards, and have demonstrated some degree of achievement in their field.

Congratulations once again to Ernie and Jay for this recognition.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012
 

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Time Limits For Filing Lawsuits

 
On many occasions, clients come into my office and want advice about whether or not they have a claim. Sadly, many times even though the client has an excellent claim, they have waited too long. Texas law requires that all claims be filed within a specific time frame. The time to file depends on the type of claim.

Those claims that must be filed within two years from the occurrence include personal injury cases, wrongful death, product liability, assault and battery, false imprisonment, trespass, legal and medical malpractice, and some statutory claims such as deceptive trade practice actions.

Claims that must be filed within four years include breach of oral contracts, breach of written contracts, breach of warranty, and fraud. Also, any claim that does not have a specific statute of limitations listed must be filed within four years.

Liable and slander claims must be filed in only one year.

The time begins on the date that the incident which you are complaining of occurs, such as the auto accident or the date the contract is breached. On rare occasions, the time limit may not begin until you discover that you have a claim. For instance, if a doctor leaves a sponge in your stomach during an operation, you would have no way to know that you have a claim until the symptoms from the foreign object reveal themselves. In these cases, the time begins when you discover the injury or when you should have discovered the injury.

The lesson here is that if you believe you have a claim, consult a lawyer as soon as possible to determine when your claim must be filed.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012
 

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What Damages Does the Law Allow in a Personal Injury Case?

 
If you are involved in an automobile collision that is someone else’s fault, and you suffer bodily injuries, what damages does the law allow you to collect from the person who is responsible?

Texas law allows you to collect six categories of damages:

1. physical pain and suffering – the pain that you actually feel
2. mental anguish – the care and concern that you feel about whether or not you are ever going to feel the same again. These are more in the nature of psychiatric damages and must be testified to by a mental professional.
3. physical disability – the inability to do the things that you could do before the accident, afterwards. This includes hobbies, sports, and things that provide pleasure such as playing with grandchildren, walking dogs, etc.
4. disfigurement – the damages for scarring from injuries or the loss of a limb.
5. loss of earnings – the loss of wages that you would have earned had you not been injured.
6. medical expenses – any medical expenses that you incurred or may incur in the future.

A jury may award damages for each of the categories listed above for both past damages and future damages.

As a rule, money damages are a terrible substitute for health. No one in their right mind would sell health for any amount of money. What good would it do you to have a million dollars, but not have your health to enjoy it. However, money is the only basis which the law allows a person to be compensated for injuries to their bodies. The jury must determine what dollar amount in each of the categories will fairly compensate the injured person for the injuries that he or she received.

For more information on your legal rights, call our office for an appointment.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012
 

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Supreme Court’s Impact on Abortion

 
There is no question that decisions of the Supreme Court have had an impact on the issue of abortion. This article is not intended to be controversial, but informative. Abortion rights and restrictions have created heated debate because of the differing moral and legal views surrounding abortion. This article will deal only with the legal issues.

The Constitution of the United States provides for equal protection for all “persons”. What is a “person” and when does being a “person” entitle one to equal protection?  For the opponents of abortion, the answer is that a “person” begins at conception. Opponents of abortion believe that at the moment of conception, life begins, a “person” is created, and the protections of the Constitution apply.

Laws relating to the unborn

For years, criminal laws and personal injury laws stated that life [a “person”] did not begin until birth. The protections of the Constitution or the laws passed by Congress did not apply to a fetus prior to birth. An example of the application of this position is that if a woman 5 months pregnant is struck in the stomach causing her to miscarry her fetus, or the fetus is so injured it is not born alive, the person causing the injury would not be charged with “murder” or any type of manslaughter because the fetus, not being a “person” did not have constitutional protection. But, the person causing the miscarriage or still birth could be charged with assault against the mother because she did have the Constitutional protections.  Additionally, prior to birth, a fetus did not have the right to sue or be sued. Some of these laws are slowly changing in some states, recognizing that the injury to a fetus can be a crime or the subject of civil liability.

History of Roe v. Wade

The case that provided us with the framework for the laws regulating abortion is the 1973 Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade.  In 1969, Jane Roe, whose real name was Norma McCorvey discovered that she was pregnant with her third child and wanted to get an abortion.  In Texas, at that time, the only avenue to obtain an abortion was to claim that you were raped.  Although untrue, Ms. McCorvey made that claim.   Because there was no police report, the abortion was denied.  She then attempted to have an illegal abortion, however the City of Dallas had closed down the clinic.  In 1970, she went to court suing the Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, hence the name Roe v. Wade.  (Ms. McCorvey gave birth long before the case was decided).

Roe v. Wade decision

In its 1973 landmark decision, the Court grappled with balancing the mother and physicians right to determine treatment and the unborn child’s right as a “person”.   The Court, for the first time, created a right of privacy as a fundamental constitutional protection for the mother, and that the rights of the fetus began at viability.  The Supreme Court decided that prior to birth, the protection of the fetus is determined by three equal portions of the usual nine month pregnancy. The fetus is unable to survive outside of the mother’s womb during the first trimester and therefore the mother’s right of privacy is superior.  The Court reasoned that the abortion procedure was safer than childbirth, so medical decisions such as abortion must be left up to the mother and her physician.   During the second trimester the States may pass laws that regulate abortion, but only to protect the health of the mother.  In effect, the fetus, up to this point, does not have the constitutional protections of a “person”.  During the third trimester, the fetus is “viable” and can live outside the womb independent of the mother. At viability, the fetus is a “person” and the States may regulate abortion during the last three months, as long as there is an exception for the protection of the mother’s health.

Justice White wrote a strong dissent stating that the Constitution did not mention the word “privacy” or “abortion”, and therefore laws passed by the states regulating abortion could not be unconstitutional since abortion was not dealt with in the Constitution.  This argument has some legal problems since there is no mention of the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communication Commission, or Social Security or Medicare in the Constitution, but that has not stopped Congress from passing laws relating to these subjects.

While the Roe case has never been overturned, the Supreme Court in the 1989 case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services modified the Roe trimester framework, but ruled that a woman has a right to abortion prior to viability.

Partial – Birth Abortion Ban Act

In deciding cases related to abortion, the Supreme Court is not legislating abortion. It is merely interpreting either the U.S. Constitution or a state statute.  Prior to 2003, there was no federal law governing the right to or prohibition of abortion. These were all laws that are enacted by the various state legislatures.  In that year, however, Congress passed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.  As you might imagine, this law was challenged and in 2007, the Supreme Court, in yet another 5-4 decision, upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.  In doing so, the court refused to overturn Roe v. Wade, so that a woman’s right of privacy is still paramount up until the fetus can live outside the womb.

Exception for Rape or Incest is an Untenable Legal Position

Some opponents of abortion have advocated a middle ground for the abortion laws, where a state would ban abortion “except for the instances of rape or incest.”  If a fetus has the legal status of a “person” from the moment of conception, this position is untenable.   Either the fetus has Constitutional protections or it doesn’t.  If the fetus is a “person” from the moment of conception, and has all of the protections of the Constitution, then the States do not have the right to enact a law that could abort the fetus any more than the States could enact a law that provided that after the fetus was born, if it was determined by DNA that it was a product of incest, he or she could be put to death. As between a mother and her two year old child, the child has the same constitutional protections to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the mother. The same would hold true if the fetus is a “person” for Constitutional purposes at the moment of conception. Regardless of whether the fetus was the product of rape, incest, or a loving relationship, the Constitutional protections would adhere to the fetus from the moment of conception.  While this exception may be argued from a moral standpoint, it cannot be supported from a purely legal point of view.

With medical advances, the determination of when a fetus is “viable” is becoming earlier and earlier in the term of pregnancy, and in future years, medical science may make the current legal definitions obsolete.

© Bruchez & Goss 2012

 

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