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Casey Anthony case reveals hypocrisy



The Abortion Memorial, an ironic face of the war on women

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 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. Could the Casey Anthony case have been one of them?

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.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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This is by far the dumbest thing I’ve ever read, and I read your blog regularly.


Cherry-picking a single extreme viewpoint like Singer’s as representative of the mainstream pro-choice view is like holding up someone who advocates the murder of abortion providers as representative of the mainstream pro-life viewpoint.

More to the point, Terry, you are equivocating abortion to murder, with the age or stage of development of the subject being irrelevant.

If that’s the case, is it your position that abortion should be prohibited even if it’s needed to save the life of the mother? If not, then you are saying that “murder” is acceptable in certain circumstances, and in the other case, you are condemning women to die when there is no need for that to happen. What gives you or anyone, let alone the government, the right to force a woman to die in those cases? It doesn’t matter how small a percentage of abortions are needed to save mothers lives – condoning one murder would be as bad a condoning a million, no?

Are you also against in vitro fertilization? The common practice of the technique creates multiple fertilized eggs, most of which are never used. If “human” life is defined as beginning at conception with a fertilized egg, every couple leaving a fertilized egg to be discarded are murderers in this viewpoint.

What’s the statute of limitation on murder, Terry? If you’re going to be consistent with your position that the decisive termination of “human” life is murder – whether we’re talking about a post-birth person capable of living outside the womb or fertilized egg – then every couple who has ever undergne in vitro treatments had better prove that every fertilized egg was not discarded, or they should be tried and convicted for murder.

If that seems extreme and ridiculous to you, then show me how you’re not creating a double-standard. Based on your essay, I don’t see how a woman who chooses to abort an embryo is any less a murderer than the couple who allows fertilized eggs to be discarded after they’ve had all the in vitro children they wanted to. Are some murderers allowed to get away with the crime while we condemn the rest?

Ridiculous? This is why these extreme pronouncements about how other people should live their lives and make choices about their own bodies fall flat. I’m curious as to your take on this.


“Peter Singer is being what you don’t want to be: honest.”

If the best response you have to my point is to call me dishonest, Terry, I’d like to see your evidence. I’m not Peter Singer or Barbara Boxer, so pretending that they speak for me is the wrong way to go about it.

You’re correct about me referring to in vitro fertilization, and what’s interesting about that part of your response is how you’re starting to move the goalposts around:

“Abortion interferes with life that has already begun and gotten a good start.” Does that mean that it’s okay to destroy a fertilized egg or zygote if it’s in a petri disk outside the womb, but not if it was in a womb to begin with? I thought the pro-life position is that life begins at conception, and yet here you are declaring that it’s okay to destroy a human life at a certain stage of development if it’s not located in a human womb. Please correct me if I’m misstating your position.

As for your final point, if you don’t consider abortion to be murder that was my mistake, since you had been categorizing it alongside infanticide, and your point seemed to be that there’s not much difference outside of people setting arbitrary definitions for what’s an acceptable state of being human with human rights.

I’d appreciate a clarification of your views then, and apoloigize if I got any of them wrong.

Sean Gregan

If you can’t see the difference between the termination of an unviable birth and the murder of an infant, you’re stupid. It’s that simple. To equate the two is childishly wrong.

Sean Gregan

I go with the scientific consensus, a position that the anti-science brigade you represent ignores.

You astonish me, you really do. You insist that government should stay away from trying to regulate how people spend their money and how they should be able to acquire guns, but you want MORE regulation on what people can do with their own bodies.

As I heard it put once: the Republicans want government to be just small enough to fit into everyone’s bedroom.

You’re a hypocrite.

Sean Gregan

When I was young, I hadn’t thought about the issue of abortion much and supported a woman’s right to choose out of a kind of default. When I was 16, a woman came and spoke to my class (as part of a series of otherwise free periods where outside speakers were invited to talk about a subject and take questions). She was from an anti-abortion charity whose name I’ve forgotten (this was over 20 years ago!) She spoke well, argued cogently, and responded to some fairly tough questions (including my own) with thoughtful answers. After the day was over I thought about what she had said for some time and decided that abortion was, on balance, wrong.

Over the next 15 years or so, I’ve heard similar cogent and thoughtful arguments from pro-choice activists, but the sort of anti-abortion rhetoric has all been your style of crying “MURDER! MURDER!” along with murdering doctors, firebombing abortion clinics and demonising women who even think about getting abortions. Is it any wonder my opinions have changed?

I wish I could find that woman again to hear some sensible arguments against abortion. As long as people like you are the ones on the anti-abortion side, you’re the best possible argument for the pro-choice position. You base your arguments on hate, lies, fear, guilt and hypocrisy. You honestly disgust me.

Sean Gregan

I wish you’d actually respond to what I *said*, not what you imagine you’ve read. An anecdote about the condition of one clinic has nothing to do with the right or wrong of abortion, nor with the scientific consensus surrounding it. I’m not even going to bother responding to such irrelevant tangents.

In the UK, we tend not to use the term trimester, although it’s becoming more popular recently. We spell it “er”, because despite its Latin roots, it seems to be an Americanism and we’ve simply imported it as is. Instead we measure pregnancies in weeks, which has the dual advantage that people are immediately familiar with the term, and that it’s more precise. The abortion limit is currently 24 weeks, having been reduced from 28 in 1990, although abortions may be carried out later in exceptional circumstances. You can read a brief summary of the current law here: link to

I didn’t say that anti-abortion violence happens regularly, but it happens. I believe the most recent high-profile case was that of George Tiller, who was murdered *while going to church*. In general, I am far more informed about American politics and life than you are about British life. Don’t bother arguing on this point – it’s simple fact.

Now, my previous comment was about the way in which anti-abortionists these days simply scream and shout and never make sensible points. Every response you’ve given – not just to me – reinforces my claim. Do you have any sensible anti-abortion arguments to make or are you going to get red in the face and jump up and down some more?


So I’m a hypocrite because I believe that I don’t have the right to tell a woman whose life is threatened by a pregnancy that she has no choice, and must carry the pregnancy to term. I’m a hypocrite because I believe that rape victims should not have to carry a pregnancy resulting from that violent crime to term. I didn’t say that these are clean, black-and-white ethical issues, so if holding those positions makes me a hypocrite in your eyes, well, your opinion is your opinion. Sticks and stones, as they say.

What’s missing in your response are direct answers to some uncomfortable questions I was posting. Let me recap them here, and I would appreciate it if you’d provide some simple, clear and direct answers to illustrate what you believe the correct positions are:

– Is abortion murder or not? If not, what type of crime is it? If it’s not a crime, why are you looking to ban it?

– Is there any circumstance where you consider the elective use of an abortion to be moral and acceptable?

– When does human life begin?

– Is there a period of development between when you define human life to begin and where that entity is entitled to all of the legal rights and protections of a human being, specifically, where the government can intervene on behalf of a human who is unable to act for himself/herself yet?

– Are the fertilized embryos used in in vitro procedures human beings with a soul and a life that needs to be preserved at all possible cost, even if they are not implanted in a womb and brought to term & birth? If not, what is the distinction between an embryo in a womb and one out of a womb from a right-to-life perspective?

I look forward to your thoughts on these questions.


I notice that Terry has taken the time to respond to others here. Hopefully there will still be a response to the questions above posted at some point today, because these get to the heart of the matter instead of dancing around it.

Sean Gregan

Terry, like every other right-winger, isn’t interested in answers. As I’ve demonstrated above, he and they are interested in hate and fear. Sad. So sad.

Sean Gregan

You’re still refusing to answer the questions, so my comments are entirely accurate.


Terry: “And you, like every other left-winger, aren’t interested in answers either.”

Actually, that’s entirely untrue, and very disingenuous for you to claim. I know that I and many others have asked countless questions here that we would very much like answers to, but no response is ever forthcoming.

Sean Gregan

Still no answers. Typical.

Terry – Excellent commentary. I’m happy to read how one person [you] have arrived at your thoughts. Following, is what I posted on the [Network] Tuesday evening:

Casey Anthony Trial Outcome

Although I haven’t followed this murder / trial saga over the last 3 years, since the death of 2 yr. old, Caylee, I’ve formed some opinions – irrespective of the “actual” guilt or innocence of the (mother) defendant. One cannot help, but formulate a few thoughts, since the death of the 2 year old, three years ago. After all, the death, investigation, indictment and trial have been all over the media network news:

link to

My Thoughts:

1) If the defendant had been ugly as sin, and had not been instructed by the defense to sit stone faced throughout the trial, I think that there could have been an opposite outcome – namely, “guilty as hell.”

2) I can’t help but think that the outcome of this trial is a reflection of the culture’s undue and rabid acceptance of unnecessary and wanton abortion. The presiding jury isn’t immune to the desensitization of the [modern] (now regarded) cheapness of human life.

3) The outcome of this trial may now embolden young mothers who now regret their (earlier) decision to eliminate their offspring, via the [unnecessary] abortion [murder] route. They can now have “it” both ways. If “it” doesn’t work out the way they would like, by not electing abortion, they can be like the Ancient Romans and dispose of their young child later on………


With all due respect, Father Bickel, I don’t think your first two thoughts are giving consideration to the sense of responsibility and serious consideration that the Anthony trial jury used in reaching their decision.

Like many people, including several of he jurors from the accounts coming out, I believe that the mother was responsible for the death of the child, and as a parent & step-parent that’s a horrible thing to contemplate. The reason they reached a not guilty verdict on the main charges is that they followed the law as instructed instead of their feelings, and concluded that there wasn’t a clear chain of evidence that proved what she did and how she did it beyond a reasonable doubt. Her looks and courtroom demeanor were not relevant, only the prosecution’s case and the evidence to back it up, which were found to fall short in the end. This was a jury who wanted to be able to convict, but felt the moral and civic responsibility to adhere to the law. It’s tragic, really, because I’m torn between admiring them for their principled respect for the American justice system and regretting that the result is a likely child-killer getting away with murder because of a weak case.

It also does this jury a great disservice for you to imply that any of them have preset notions about abortion that led to their decision. A two-year-old girl was murdered, and they were seeking answer to that murder backed by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if every juror was pro-choice, do you really believe that this would make them more likely to acquit someone if the evidence was there? They’ve stated in their own words that many of them walked into deliberations wanting to convict, and only changed their minds when they applied the law as instructed.

We are not living in ancient Rome, Father. If anyone kills a human after he or she is born, then a murder has taken place and justice must be done. Mothers who regret having their children can place them up for adoption as always, and no rational person should believe that a sick, murdering woman who probably got away with murder in an isolated case is going to be an inspiration for others to follow in her footsteps.


totally agree with you, since embryos will become humans later. All the abortion advocates can nowadays support their opinion because their parents didnt choice to abort them.


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