by John Lightner
In St. Petersburg, Florida, on March 27, 1994, Kawana Ashley fired a bullet into her womb, fatally injuring the fetus, because she could not afford an abortion.
Kawana attempted to procure an abortion at George Nauert's St. Petersburg Women's Health Care Clinic, Inc. She did not have the money that the clinic demanded for the procedure so she chose another option.
Asley told a friend she would "just shoot herself in the stomach". Her friend said she did not take her seriously.
At approximately 10:50 a.m. on March 27th, Ashely fired a .22 caliber pistol into the right side of her womb and fatally injured her 24 week-old fetus (Herald Tribune, 9-10-94)
According to court records, Ashley originally claimed that she was shot in a drive-by shooting. Police later learned that Kawana Ashley had placed a pillow over her abdomen prior to shooting herself and the bullet had traveled from the right side of her abdomen to the left side of her abdomen, ultimately passing through the wrist of the fetus. The fetus was born live and was named Brittany Ashley. Brittany died, however, on April 11, 1994. According to records, the medical examiner who conducted an autopsy believed the child's death was a homicide. Kawana Ashley accomplished what she had set out to do. Her baby was indeed dead.
The state attorney's office brought charges of manslaughter and third degree murder against Ashley. Enter via Amicus curia (Friend of the Court) petitioners. These petitioners are persons with strong views on the subject matter who may join in filing briefs on behalf of a party-but actually to suggest a rationale consistent with it's own views. In the instant case the "friends" consisted of a list of pro-abortion minded liberal organizations. This list included no less than three ACLU attorneys from New York, New Jersey and Miami, along with others. This case has produced volumes of artful pleadings regarding Ashley's immunity from prosecution, but one of the most offensive is perhaps the following contained in a motion to dismiss and I quote:
"The plain meaning of the Florida Homicide Statute precludes their application to a pregnant woman's action affecting her own body because the homicide statute requires the existence of two separate people (a perpetrator and a victim) at the time the crime is committed".
This statement clearly reflects the notion that these petitioners failed to recognize that the "perpetrator" in this case was the mother who previously stated she was going to "shoot herself in the stomach" and later pulled the trigger of a .22 caliber pistol which she pointed at her abdomen with the obvious intent of killing her unborn child. The victim according to the Office of Vital Statistics is Brittany Ashley. The Death Certificate number 6786301 states the following:
Brittany B. Ashley, a female, was born on March 27th, 1994 at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. Brittany died at 12:47 a.m., April 11, 1994 at an age of 15 days. The funeral home was Bay Pines in St. Pete and Brittany's body was cremated by Cremation Systems International of Palmetto, Florida.
The message to society is that it is now acceptable to kill one's own child. We have already given way to the popular flawed notion that if a child is a burden before birth, then it is acceptable to kill it by abortion.
In memory of Brittany B. Ashley, this writer passionately requests that the legislators of the State of Florida review this case and overturn the common law immunity conferred on a pregnant woman. This law must be explicitly changed. To have not considered Brittany a "victim" is an unconscionable tragedy.
If a Florida statute had specifically proscribed Ashely's conduct before she acted her prosecution may have been satisfied and a less tragic ending for other babies in the future (such as adoption) may be more fully realized.