The Casey Anthony case reveals the monumental hypocrisy of a society that decries the death of one child but condones the deaths of millions. Those deaths occurred largely from the same motive that the public still ascribed, justly or unjustly, to Casey Anthony: the mother’s convenience.
Casey Anthony case overview
On or about June 16, 2008, Caylee Marie Anthony disappeared from her Orange County, Florida home. Thirty-one days later, a water-meter reader found a triple bag containing her remains. Her mother, Casey Anthony, did not even report her child missing during that time. She told two different stories to her parents and to anyone who asked, including the police. Eventually she admitted that both those stories were false. Authorities arrested her and charged her with first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and aggravated child abuse. (They also charged her with four counts of lying to police. Lying to police is a misdemeanor in Florida and carries a penalty of up to a year in prison.) Her trial ended yesterday in acquittals on the three serious charges, and convictions on the lying-to-police counts. Considering the time she has already served, she is not likely to stay as a guest either of the county or the State for much longer—a year at most, and possibly no longer at all.
The acquittals surprised everyone and pleased only a few, beyond Casey and her lawyers. Geraldo Rivera, who never once felt that the prosecution offered enough evidence, claimed vindication. Judge Andrew Napolitano (formerly of the Superior Court of New Jersey), who held that Trial Judge Belvin Perry had made many reversible errors, sighed with relief. Nearly every other commentator has cried out that the Casey Anthony case is a miscarriage of justice. Rob Taylor’s comment on Redstate.com is among the mildest: he observes that this is not the finest hour of American criminal justice.
But neither Taylor nor Napolitano nor Rivera nor anyone else has, so far, addressed the deeper significance of the Casey Anthony case. Many observers cried over the little girl’s death, cry for an accounting, and cry that they won’t get it. But those same observers are silent over a class of crimes that occur under their noses every day.
The crimes: abortion and infanticide
Infanticides, 1976 to 2005. Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
On January 22, 1973, a “jury” of nine men voted, five to four, to acquit any woman who causes the death of her child—so long as she does it before she gives birth to it. So the Casey Anthony case need never have been, had Casey Anthony made her decision (if that’s what it was) two years earlier.
Two sets of statistics tell the tale. The Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that abortions rose steadily since then, peaked in 1992, and declined about 20 percent since then. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that infanticides reached their peak in 1997. (The BJS defines “infanticide” as the killing of a child younger than 5 years old.) The Casey Anthony case is only one of about 500 such cases that police report each year. In contrast, more than 1.2 million babies die each year, because their mothers did not allow them to be born. (Note: this figure does not include miscarriages. The AGI specifically excluded those deaths.)
Where is the outrage, the screaming for scalps, and the cry for justice over these deaths? Are they any less horrible because a birth never occurred?
Peter Singer’s attitude
At least one advocate for abortion doesn’t waste our time trying to say that abortion and infanticide are any different. Peter W. Singer, PhD, of Princeton University, cheerfully advocates for both! He says that a newborn has no consciousness, no self-awareness, and is not a person. (He also says that someone is not a person anymore if he loses those faculties, to Alzheimer’s Disease or similar illnesses.) He actually recommends that the law allow a mother to kill her newborn child up to a month after birth. (But he is not consistent about that. As Klusendorf shows here, Singer recommended this procedure only for “severely disabled” infants. By whose standard? Blank-out.)
So what would Singer have made of the Casey Anthony case? Would he necessarily have lamented the death of Caylee Anthony, because she had somehow expressed a wish to go on living? But on what grounds could he regard the Casey Anthony case as worth prosecuting? Because Casey Anthony waited too long?
Brass v. hypocrisy
Still, Peter Singer has your editor’s respect. I shall always respect brass more than hypocrisy. Peter Singer is simply the most brazen to date of all the advocates for abortion on demand. The rest of them are hypocritical. How many of those who scream for the scalp of Casey Anthony (and even for the scalps of the jurors who acquitted her), scream even more loudly about “a woman’s right to choose”?
Casey Anthony might have made a choice—or not. (Your editor is not convinced, either; the Casey Anthony case was nothing but gossip on either side.) But if she did: is her “choice” any less valid, and any less deserving of Constitutional protection, than the “choices” that over a million women make every day? Why does our society cavil at 500 “choices” every year, merely because those who made them, waited up to 5 years too late? Why do we even prosecute murder at all?
Before our society works itself up over one case (that might or might not be what people think), it ought to look at 1.2 million cases every year that ought to make people shudder just as much.
Featured image: the Knights of Columbus placed this Abortion Memorial grave marker in a cemetery near Berlin, OH. Photo: George Bannister. CC BY 2.0 Generic License.