Hit & Run Sparks ‘Personhood’ Debate

DENVER (CBS4) – A pregnant woman run down in a hit-and-run accident in the Stapleton area last week is improving after the baby she was carrying died. Laurie Gorham is now listed in fair condition at Denver Health Medical Center.

Gorham’s father told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger she is out of intensive care and off the ventilator.

The hit-and-run driver is nowhere to be found and even though a life was lost, the driver is unlikely to be charged with vehicular homicide. University of Denver law instructor and former Denver prosecutor Karen Steinhauser says that’s because of the way the law in Colorado is written.

“And the way ‘person’ is defined is essentially a child or a human being who was born alive at the time of the homicidal act,” Steinhauser said.

Gorham’s child was not born at the time of the incident and was later delivered still born.

Last November Colorado voters turned down a new definition of personhood that would have made it from the time of conception.

“Personhood would have given justice to this child. We lost the election but truth always gets the last word,” Bob Enyart with Colorado Right to Life said.

Enyart says Colorado Right to Life will use this case as an example when they try again in the legislature and through ballot initiatives.

The likely charges that would apply in this case are vehicular assault and hit-and-run, and the baby lost could be taken into account at sentencing.

“The court could consider the fact that she was pregnant at the time and lost the baby in terms of imposing a higher sentence on the vehicular assault or hit-and-run,” Steinhauser said.

When someone becomes a person has long been a matter of religious, political and legal debate.

There is a similar case from Grand Junction in which a driver slammed into a woman who then gave birth, but the child soon died. The driver was charged with murder, but the Court of Appeals overruled that. He finally got 20 years for child abuse resulting in death.

  • Jessica

    Until you have lost a child you have no idea how horrible and painful it is. It does not matter if they are stillborn or not. They will always be your child. I know from personal experience. I feel for this family during their time of loss and I pray for family.

  • Jon

    Let’s hope, for the sake of what’s really at stake here, it’s what could be a battle over abortion rights. Which in all honesty is somewhat at the heart of this whole mess: a woman’s right to abortion! I feel for the family, but I hope the lawmakers and judge/jury don’t lose sight of what’s right and wrong. This isn’t ethics, it’s what’s written as the law. A child this person did not kill! I hope people can recognize this in the next elections also and keep what’s written written. I cannot fathom for the life of me, how easily and quickly women are willing to give up their rights. Didn’t the woman’s movement and women’s suffrage in the early part of the last century go unnoticed? It makes me sad that women want to go back to the 1800’s when they had no voice. Wake up women!!!

  • Sheila Cody

    While this horrible nightmare of a tragedy certainly raises sensitive questions, out of respect for the excruciating pain of the couple who lost a very real though not yet born baby, let us show compassion and not undermine their heartbreak by questioning in the same breath, questions about humanity.

    Moral culpability belongs to the driver. Moral responsibility and maturity was lacking in that person.

  • John

    I don’t want to see this case used as a battle cry for either side… but the person did KILL a CHILD and should be charged with MURDER! My thoughts and prayers are with the family. May they find peace.

  • Jennifer

    May God be with this family thru this tragic time..and may God make the irresponible’s person life hell until they come forward and do the right thing and own up to thier own crime! I mean..who does that??!!! run over a pregnant woman,kill her baby and then just run off like nothing ever happend?? what is america coming to?! My prayer is that justice is served and this family can somehow move on with life..although there is a piece taken from this mama that can never be returned..I feel for you and pray for you sweet lady..

blog comments powered by Disqus
News Updates & Notifications

Listen Live

AM/FM Stations

Featured Shows & Multimedia