COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CNS) — On a recent quiet afternoon at the makeshift memorial for the victims of the July 20 Aurora movie theater shooting, a pink cross was added to acknowledge the miscarriage of an unborn baby in the aftermath of the tragedy.
A pregnant mother, Ashley Moser, who was critically wounded in the tragedy, lost her 6-year-old daughter in the melee. Then, as the woman recovered in the hospital, she suffered a miscarriage.
On Aug. 3, moments after Father Bill Carmody, Respect Life director for the Colorado Springs Diocese, placed the cross for “Baby Moser” along the line at the memorial, a woman paying her respects to the victims began to weep. She went to her car and brought back a baby blanket and laid it at the foot of the cross.
The unborn baby died as a result of trauma suffered by her mother, according to a July 28 statement released by Moser's family. She continues to recover in the hospital and, according to news reports, faces significant recovery ahead because she is paralyzed from the waist down.
Many people consider Moser's miscarried baby the 13th murder victim; 12 people died the night the shooter opened fire in the theater. Another 58 people were wounded.
James Holmes, 24, has been charged in the shooting. He faces 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder.
Father Carmody prayed at the memorial site for more than an hour, he said, and during that time he watched several other mourners place flowers at Baby Moser's cross.
“Everybody would see the 12 crosses and then they'd get to the 13th one and nod their heads and say, 'Yes,” Father Carmody told The Colorado Catholic Herald, the Colorado Springs diocesan newspaper. “It was a very positive experience. I wasn't sure what to expect when I got there, but they get it.”
Headlines acknowledging Baby Moser as the 13th victim have been scarce because, as Father Carmody said, “no one is touching it, quite frankly. There is a desire not to make it a political issue (about protection of life in the womb). You have to honor the victims and recognize them, so this has not been a big issue. But now it's time.”
Colorado state legislators have tried in recent years to pass fetal homicide legislation that recognized life in the womb as a child, but in the past two years, neither has come close to passing.
Father Carmody said that an effort two years ago ended up with what he described as twisted language that, ultimately, made the bill about protecting abortion access in the state should the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973 be overturned. Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion virtually on demand.
The latest effort was a straight fetal homicide bill, such as has been passed in nearly three dozen other states, but that also lacked enough support from legislators.
“(A fetal homicide bill) gives human life to the baby in the womb, and they won't acknowledge that,” Father Carmody said of legislators who oppose such a measure. “My hope is that this (13th cross) will be an impetus, that we will acknowledge the life of the preborn baby — at least when the mother wants the life — as a human.”
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— By Bill Howard, editor of The Colorado Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.