US Why The Texas Church Shooting Death Toll Includes A Fetus

01:51  09 november  2017
01:51  09 november  2017 Source:   HuffPost

Newspaper: Texas sheriff says there were multiple deaths in church shooting and shooter has been taken down

  Newspaper: Texas sheriff says there were multiple deaths in church shooting and shooter has been taken down SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas — Local media report that several people have been shot at a church in South Texas.Newspaper: Sheriff says there were multiple deaths in Texas church shooting and shooter has been taken down

The incident has occurred at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, 45 kilometers southeast of San Antonio, Texas , where authorities have deployed a strong police device, which includes the presence of FBI agents. Wilson County Commissioner Albert Gamez told MSNBC television that the death toll

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Flower arrangements and a sign announcing a blood donation drive are left at the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 8, 2017. © REUTERS/Rick Wilking Flower arrangements and a sign announcing a blood donation drive are left at the site of the shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 8, 2017. Texas officials counted 26 victims following a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday. The eldest victim was 77 years old. The youngest was still in utero.

Texas is one of at least 38 states that have enacted laws to protect the rights of fetuses killed in violent crimes. Like the one passed in Texas in 2003, fetal homicide or “feticide” laws carry harsher penalties for crimes committed against pregnant women.

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The New York Times. U.S.| Why the Tally of the Church Shooting ’s Victims Included a Fetus . Other than in the death toll , the Texas law on crimes against an unborn child will not come into play in this case, because the gunman, Devin P. Kelley, was found dead shortly after he fled the church .

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Crystal Holcombe was eight months pregnant when 26-year-old suspect Devin Patrick Kelley opened fire at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. Holcombe died along with three of her five children, as well as her mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law and niece. Her husband, John Holcombe, was reportedly struck by shrapnel in his leg but survived.

Kelley fled the scene, and officials later found him with a fatal gunshot wound in his vehicle in nearby Guadalupe County. If the suspect had remained alive, Texas law would have required that he be charged with the murder of Holcombe’s fetus.

Texas was among the first states to pass a fetal homicide law. The state’s penal code includes a definition of “an individual” as “a human being who is alive, including an unborn child at every stage of gestation from fertilization until birth.”

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In the deadliest church shooting in American history, 26 people are dead after a lone gunman opened fire on congregants at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Sunday. According to CNN, eight of the victims are from the same family.

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In 2004, Congress passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which counted fetuses as separate victims of federal and military crimes. Dubbed “Laci and Conor’s Law,” the act gained momentum following the 2002 murder of Laci Peterson by her husband, Scott Peterson, in California. Peterson was eight months pregnant at the time of her death. The Conor, at the time of her death.

Advocates for feticide laws argue that the legislation aims to protect the lives of both mothers and their unborn fetuses.

“The principle here is that there are two victims,” Jennifer Popik, director of federal legislation for anti-abortion rights group National Right to Life, told The New York Times. “For a family already invested in the child, for the grandparents, this is a loss.”

But opponents say such laws tread into murky territory regarding personhood and the debate over whether life begins at conception

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Authorities say that their tally of those killed in Sunday's shooting at a Texas church includes an unborn child. An El Paso, Texas , police report also says that Kelley made death threats against superior officers.

First is the concern over whether feticide laws could be used to criminalize abortion. Many of the state’s fetal homicide laws include language specifically differentiating between violent crimes and legal abortions.

Deborah Tuerkheimer, a Northwestern University law professor and former assistant district attorney in Manhattan, has argued that the laws pose other issues, though, regarding the legal status of fetuses.

“Affording victim status to a fetus has implications beyond the erosion of abortion rights,” Tuerkheimer wrote in a New York Times op-ed following the introduction of a fetal homicide law in Colorado. “Legally severing a fetus from the pregnant woman has the effect of pitting her interests against the fetus’s.”

This could result, she argued, in increasing “the state’s power to interfere in the lives of pregnant women.”

Some abortion rights groups, like NARAL Pro-Choice America, favor laws that enforce additional penalties for crimes committed against pregnant women rather than designating fetuses as separate legal entities.

Kaylie Hanson Long, national communications director for NARAL, said in a statement: “We need tougher laws on the books that increase criminal penalties for individuals who target pregnant women, and we stand with our allies in support of meaningful legislation to prevent future acts of gun violence.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

Community to honor church attack victims on Veterans Day .
Veterans Day has special meaning this year in the small South Texas community where a church massacre occurred last weekend. Nearly half of the victims had ties to the U.S. Air Force. The church attack victims with military backgrounds will receive a full military salute Saturday on the grounds of the community hall in Sutherland Springs as Veterans Day is observed, said Alice Garcia, president of the Sutherland Springs Community Association.Her husband and the association's vice president, Oscar Garcia, said they want to "honor those that have fallen, people killed in a moment after putting in years of military service.


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