A Miscarriage of Justice?

On May 10, the Washington Post reported that prosecutors in Ohio are weighing whether to pursue capital murder charges again the man accused of kidnapping and raping three women in Cleveland. I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of charging Ariel Castro with murder.

I am as horrified as everyone else by these crimes, and if he is found guilty, I can think of no better punishment than chaining this man in a dark hole for the rest of his life. But charging him with murder, after all the other things he is alleged to have done, seems an unnecessary upping of the ante and reeks of a prosecutor pursuing keyed up charges against a defendant that everyone would like to see put away.

I am against the death penalty. I think the state has no right to execute citizens. I’ve long accepted that I’m currently in the minority on this one, though I believe that those of us we feel the same will ultimately be on the right side of history.

But beyond that, I am distinctly concerned with the rush to charge someone with murder because their actions may have led to a miscarriage. If these charges are successfully prosecuted, then that may throw open the door to something that the anti-choice forces have wanted for a long time: equating the ending of pregnancy with murder in the courts.

This monster kept three women captive for ten years and debased them in ways that decent people cannot imagine. Yes, lock him up and throw away the key. But do not use this moment to press gratuitous if popular charges against a hated perpetrator just to score political points. And don’t let the actions of a man who degraded women lead to other women being robbed of their right to make their own health and reproductive choices.

In the heat of public passion to prosecute a man who deprived women of their liberty, let’s not deprive more women of their own constitutionally protected rights.