By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
A 17 year-old Utah teen who paid a man to beat her in the hopes of terminating her pregnancy has been released following a judge’s ruling that her actions were legal according to the state’s abortion laws.
Deseret News is reporting that in May of this year, the teen enlisted the help of Arron Nathaneal Harrison, 21, to put an end to her pregnancy by beating her. Investigators believe she paid Harrison $150 to punch her five times in the stomach, slap her and bite her neck in an attempt to make the incident appear to be a random assault.
Although the teen was badly beaten at the time, both she and the baby survived. The child was born in August and court records indicate the baby will most likely be put into state custody.
The teen initially entered a no-contest plea to the charge of solicitation of murder with prosecutors arguing that she was trying to solicit the felony act of murder, but the judge disagreed.
“The problem with this argument is that the abortion statute specifically states that a woman cannot be criminally liable for soliciting the abortion of her unborn child,” wrote Judge Larry Steele of the 8th District juvenile court.
While admitting that the girl’s actions were “shocking and crude,” they were, nonetheless, legal under the state’s current definition of abortion, which includes the “the intentional termination or attempted termination of human pregnancy … and includes any and all procedures undertaken to kill a live unborn child and includes all procedures undertaken to produce a miscarriage.”
Judge Steele said the teen told police she had taken the action because she wanted to have a miscarriage, an action which fits the definition of abortion under the law.
His ruling now protects the girl from being held criminally liable for her actions.
Rep. Carl Wimmer, (R-Herriman), said the judge “stretched” the law, and is already taking action to amend the statute. Wimmer said he was “absolutely outraged” at the decision and is already planning a bill that will “close that loophole for good.”
“I have questions on whether there was really a loophole there in the first place, but I can guarantee that that loophole will be closed in the next legislative session,” Wimmer said.
The girl’s attacker, who pleaded guilty to attempted murder, will be sentenced on Oct. 27.
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