Utah Judge Upholds Fetal Murder Law

Utah Judge Michael Allphin this week upheld a 1983 state law that allowed people to be charged with murder for killing a fetus, even if the fetus was killed well before the time when it was viable.

The specific case involved 47-year-old Roger MacGuire who is accused of killing his ex-wife, Susan MacGuire. Susan was 13 to 15 weeks pregnant with the child of her fiance. Prosecutors maintain that the pregnancy enraged Roger, who actually aimed directly at the fetus before shooting Susan MacGuire.

Roger’s defense lawyers argued that the law was unconstitutional because the point of viability is usually defined much later in reproductive law cases. Judge Allphin ruled that the standard for viability in reproductive law was irrelevant in the context of criminal law, ruling that, “Reproductive rights cases are simply inapplicable to restrict the state’s interest in protecting unborn life.”


Utah judge rules on fetal murder. The Associated Press, January 8, 2002.

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