Man Charged With Rape Cites Kansas's 'Life Begins at Conception' Abortion Statute to Argue Victim Was of Age

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A 21-year-old Kansas man accused of rape and aggravated indecent liberties with a child unsuccessfully argued that under state abortion statute claiming life begins at fertilization, the teenage girl he assaulted was actually 16 instead of 15 and therefore at the age of consent, the Associated Press reports.

Jordan Ross was charged in August 2017 after allegedly raping the teenager at a party in Lawrence. At a preliminary hearing, the victim said that Ross held her down and raped her. “[He] pushed my head into the bed so that nobody could hear me,” she testified. Ross was 19 at the time at the time of the alleged rape.


Ross’s defense attorney Cooper Overstreet argued that Ross could not be convicted of aggravated indecent liberties with a child because “of recent statutory amendments establishing that life begins at fertilization.” (The charge of aggravated indecent liberties with a child does not require proof of consent.) The Lawrence-World Journal reports that Overstreet’s motion argued that the “alleged victim...should be considered by this court as nine months older than her date of birth.”

Overstreet was attempting to invoke a Kansas abortion statute that defines life as beginning at conception. That statute was passed in 2013 as part of former Governor Sam Brownback’s sweeping abortion legislation. When Brownback signed the legislation, the Lawrence-World Journal reported that the language was largely ideological since the legislation notes that “any rights suggested by the language are limited by decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court protecting access to abortion.”


Ross’s defense was rejected by Douglas County District Court Judge James McCabria after Prosecutor Alice Walker defined age as calculated by birth date, adding that redefining age with “life beginning at conception” would “introduce an unacceptable uncertainty into the criminal law.”

Ross’s trial has been rescheduled for January 3. He is currently free on a $20,000 bond.

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