wait a moment

Shelburne – Baby in a box raises hard questions

Back to school - The Boston Globe

We’d probably have to live in or near to Fountain Inn, South Carolina, to know the rest of this story, but the part we do know raises all sorts of troubling questions for those who must enforce the laws of the state and for those of us who want to obey God’s laws.

Back in September 2017, law officers were summoned to an apartment complex to help evict a tenant. But that call took a macabre twist none of them expected.

According to a FOXCarolina news report, in that apartment police found the badly decomposed remains of a baby in a clothes hamper. The child’s body had been sealed inside a container and then stashed inside two larger boxes.

The tiny body in such sad condition posed a challenge to the medical examiner, but experts estimated that the infant had been dead almost a year.

The autopsy finally established that they were dealing with a 38-week fetus, but the decayed state of the remains made it impossible even to tell the child’s gender. Nor could the ME tell authorities whether they were dealing with a stillborn or a live birth.

Until they could learn more about what really had happened, authorities arrested and detained the mother. At least while the investigation was ongoing, this woman who couldn’t pay her rent now got free lodging.

At this point, the story vanished on national news, so I have no idea how it unraveled. If the fetus indeed was stillborn, the mother possibly faced minor charges for improper handling of a human body (which seems grossly unfair, since abortion clinics nationwide get paid every day to desecrate the bodies of similar fetuses).

If the baby took a breath, however, the consequences for that mother become far more severe. Most babies born 38 weeks after conception survive. At that point they would be considered about a month premature, sufficiently developed to be viable with a minimum of medical care.

Did this un-named mother murder her newborn? The criminal penalties for that offense likely would imprison her for a lengthy stay. And they should.

To me, though, what seems grossly unfair about all of this is the fact that, in two-thirds of our states, a licensed medical professional could end the life of the same baby and be rewarded instead of punished for doing so.

Nobody can explain to me why we praise one baby-killer and punish the other.

Gene Shelburne is minister of the Anna Street Church of Christ, 2310 Anna Street, Amarillo, Texas. Contact him at GeneShel@aol.com, or get his books and magazines at www.annastreetchurch.com. His column appears monthly in the Faith section.

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