Ariel Castro, the 52-year-old man in Cleveland accused of keeping three women captive in his home for nearly a decade, may face the death penalty — clearly not for the deaths of any of the women he held captive. Amanda Berry, 27, Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michelle Knight, 32, have all been rescued; however, Castro may receive the death penalty for allegedly forcing miscarriages of one the victims. In this case, Ohio’s law dictates that that an unborn fetus has personhood status. Castro has been arraigned and faces three counts of rape and four counts of kidnapping. His bail is set at $8 million dollars.
But should Castro really be convicted of aggravated murder and sent to death row for lives ultimately not conceived?
Here is why he shouldn’t.
According to a prosecution report, Castro allegedly impregnated Knight five times and forced her to have miscarriages each time by punching her stomach and starving her. He is also said to have forced Knight to help Berry give birth to her now six-year-old child in a plastic kiddie pool.
While Ohio law allows persecution for several of fetal homicide, what do such laws mean for abortion on the larger scale? Why is it that the law allows for fetuses to be treated as people in criminal charges, yet abortion is not legally viewed as murder? There's vein of hypocrisy evident in this contrast of law.
The idea that some type of justice should be awarded to a fetus taps into the controversial pro-life versus pro-choice debate. Notice that throughout this piece thus far, we’ve only been referring to Knight’s alleged miscarriages with the word fetus — not child or unborn child. We live in a culture that places much emphasis on what the fetus is to be, rather than for what a fetus is. For all intents and purposes, it is a fertilized egg that has attached to the wall of a woman’s uterus. And while it is expected to become a human being, the world is an uncertain place where that expectation does not always become reality. To charge Castro with murder is questionable.
It appears that part of desire to lay down the death penalty stems from the instant, emotional desire to dole out the most unforgiving punishment for Castro’s depraved crimes. While the alleged miscarriages are saddening, the prosecution should solely focus on and lay the full weight of the law on Castro for what he has subjected these three women and living child to.