Tough sentence needed for pregnancy cases

Jared Merril Ahlstrom was in court in Mesa County this week, facing a single felony count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

That certainly is an appropriate charge for what Ahlstrom is accused of doing — slipping drugs to his ex-girlfriend without her knowledge to cause her to abort the baby she was carrying — a baby for which he was the father.

But that charge in itself seems inadequate. After all, not only did Ahlstrom allegedly end the woman’s pregnancy against her wishes, he assaulted her on two different occasions by giving her chemicals that endangered her and the baby she was carrying.

The chemical he purchased in Mexico and put in the woman’s food in September 2008 caused the woman pain and made her bleed while the two were hiking, according to police records. However, the baby she was carrying survived and remained healthy.

Ahlstrom allegedly used the chemical again prior to a hike the two took on Grand Mesa a year ago. This time he was successful.

So, based on the police report, Ahlstrom not only killed the baby, against the wishes of its mother, but he tricked her into consuming dangerous chemicals on two separate occasions.

Colorado law makes it clear that ending the life of a baby still in the mother’s uterus cannot be considered murder. That was amply demonstrated when District Attorney Pete Hautzinger filed murder charges against a man who crashed his car into a vehicle driven by a pregnant Mesa County woman, injuring her and causing the death of her nearly full-term baby.

Even so, taking a baby from a mother’s womb against her wishes is a terrible crime that is likely to cause deep emotional scars for the woman, on top of her physical pain and suffering.

Ahlstrom deserves as severe a sentence as possible for what is alleged to be intentionally harmful conduct.  And we still believe there needs to be a law in this state that allows for more serious charges, short of murder, when someone willfully takes a fetus from a mother against her wishes.


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