Contradiction: Pregnant Women Cannot Be Executed

Posted: August 30, 2010 in Contradictions


Federal law prohibits the death penalty for pregnant women until they give birth.[1]  In essence, the law declared that an innocent unborn person cannot be sentenced and put to death for a crime he did not commit.  If the unborn child were not seen as a person in the eyes of the law, there would be no need for this prohibition. 

Common law typically prohibited the execution of a pregnant woman until birth, though its prohibition was not even as strong as the current federal law.  The U.S. Supreme Court explained the purpose of the common law doctrine: “to guard against the taking of the life of an unborn child for the crime of the mother.”[2]  Inconsistently, the Court calls the unborn child a “child” and yet refuses to recognize her as a person. 

In a further recognition of unborn persons, in 1976, the U.S. joined 143 other nations in signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  It specifically states that the sentence of death is not to be carried out on pregnant women.[3]  In these examples, the U.S. law has not given the woman the “right to choose” whether or not to allow her unborn child to be executed with her.  It is a direct contradiction of law to allow a doctor and a woman to terminate that same innocent human life in abortion situations.

[1] 18 U.S.C.A. S.3596 (1994).
[2] Union P. R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 253 (1891).
[3] Nat’l Right to Life, Should an Innocent Child be Executed (July 20, 2000), (last visited Dec. 8, 2009).
  1. […] the taking of the life of an unborn child for the crime of the mother.”  Current U.S. Code also prohibits the execution of pregnant women, despite their choices to the contrary.  Women have not been given […]