Judge Dismisses Charges Against Woman Who Killed Her Unborn Child

Skinner's Case in the Larger Debate -- the 'Ugly Underside of Abortion Culture'

Many in the anti-abortion camp see the handling of Skinner's case as an outgrowth of America's "abortion culture" -- and a reason to indict it.

David Brandao of the American Life League compares Skinner's to any other case of abortion that takes place.

"The Tammy Skinner case exposes the ugly underside of the abortion culture," Brandao said in his online blog. "Every 'choice' ends with a dead baby and a wounded mother, whether it happens in a public parking lot or in the antiseptic chambers of a 'reproductive health facility.'"

That's an opinion shared by Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago.

Scheidler is highly aware of the vagaries of abortion law. Based on the rights granted to women under Roe vs. Wade, Scheidler was hardly surprised that there was debate over the Skinner case.

"If the right to kill the child resides totally in that child's mother -- which it does -- why would it be illegal for her to do this with a gun as opposed to with a suction vacuum machine in a doctor's office," she told ABC News.

Both anti-abortion and abortion-rights activists view Skinner's self-abortion as tragic, far from the optimal outcome for any woman. But if the answer for anti-abortion thinkers is restricting abortions, the abortion-rights answer is just the opposite.

According to Lynn Paltrow, executive director at Advocates for Pregnant Women, the way to prevent cases like Skinner's is to provide low-income women easier access to abortions and reproductive health resources.

"The question we shouldn't be asking is, 'What crime did she commit?' But, 'Why didn't she have access to abortion services? Why didn't she have access to mental health services?'" Paltrow said.

"When Medicaid does not fund abortion. … It is totally inappropriate to turn to the criminal justice system to respond to these problems," she said.

The long-term impact that Skinner's actions will have on the abortion debate remains to be seen. Should legislators redefine abortion laws to make expectant mothers criminally responsible for actions like Skinner's?

Her situation was noticed too late, and the way she sought a resolution was tragic and possibly criminal.

No matter what, the complex questions and tough decisions that come with her case seem far from resolved.

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