Title: Law Opinion Paper Submitted by: Travis Hance Course: CJS220 Instructor: Stephen Gillespie

As a nation of laws, checks, and legal balance we are constantly evolving. Our society is one of interaction. Legal decisions often arise out of public outcry, as a perceived or real threat to civility arises. Our material points to an excellent example, that of neonaticide, or as we modernly refer to it as abortion. This issue is one that creates much controversy. Even the most sympathetic people will often consider the question of how they would feel if the unwanted pregnancy was a result of a sexual assault. Beginning as early as the 1600’s in many countries around the world, and still an issue today, citizens, politicians, and legislature have addressed this issue with much contention. It is, I believe, an excellent example of how laws are passed. In early Anglo Saxon history, the concept of neonaticide addressed those who were religiously considered sinners. As our societies have progressed the concept of sexual relations outside of marriage have become more relaxed. Legislature is usually enacted and passed through the generalist desires of the people governed. Those who would be politicians promote a platform that appeals to the majority. This is one reason that I believe that this issue has never truly been addressed, and therefore provides an excellent example as to how our law works today. As our study material states: “First, an action must attract condemnation before laws are designed to eliminate it. In the case of neonaticide, the killing of newborns progressed from being socially accepted to socially condemned” (Meyer and Grant, 2003, Page 8)

Therefore I believe it to be a logical conclusion that we as a society must accomplish certain waypoints, or goals, before a law can actually be enacted. First we must become aware of the issue. Second, it must be critical enough that we begin to discuss it within a public forum. Third, with regards to the United States, we must begin to address the issue within our State legislature. Fourth and finally, once the States have addressed the matter, the Federal government may begin to weigh in upon the issue at hand.

To many around the world this seems to be a long and convoluted issue. However, with a country founded on tolerance for differing points of view, and respect for legal process, it is indeed easier to understand why our legal system moves forward only with respect to deterrence. We as a society decide first what is right and wrong. By defining what is wrong we can then amend our legal codes to assign appropriate punishments for inappropriate actions.

In the case study of neonaticide, we as a society are still attempting to determine where the fine line exists between a woman’s right to protect her body, and infants right to conception and birth. While I am sure that the issue will continue to be debated for years to come, I think that it actually represents the best parts of our progressive society. The courts play a vital part in determining what our ‘law’ is going forwards by revising legal codes. By providing a fair public forum in which to discuss issues, our courts truly give the people the ability to voice their opinion. While I am sure that this issue will

continue to be debated for years to come, I do find it personally insightful and interesting that a discussion of our court system can use this example as a representation of free speech and democracy.

In centuries past, the idea of common law was a base which society relied upon. Common law was a concept of fairness and equality. It was the idea that you as a citizen did what was considered to be right, and that it should not have to be explained to you in detail. As our worldwide societies have progressed, courts and law have played a greater part by defining what is right and wrong. This has resulted in greater demands on law enforcement, as well as a society that is more prone to legal action in order to settle disputes.

As we continue to move forwards in our study of the court system, legal proceedings, and how legislation is actually passed, I feel confident that a review of such difficult cases will result in a better understanding of the democratic process.


A: The Courts in our Criminal Justice System, Meyer and Grant, 2003, page 8