Additional Titles






A Dog's Life
vs An Infant's

Judges Need To
Be 'Checked and Balanced'

Who is
Responsible For Jesus' Death?

No Sympathy


More Boggs







By Pastor Kelly Boggs

January 24, 2004

January 22nd marked the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion on demand throughout the United States. In the three decades since that infamous ruling, human life in America has become exceedingly cheap.

Allow me to illustrate:

In January of 2000, Joseph R. Henderson of Bend, Ore., was sentenced to serve seven years in a juvenile detention facility for killing a dog. The then-seventeen-year-old confessed to stealing a woman’s pet and tying it to the bumper of his car and dragging it for almost a mile before stabbing it to death.

After announcing Henderson’s sentence, Judge Stephen P. Forte commented directly to the teen saying, “The harm you did to another life form is inconceivable. You need treatment.” The judge added that the dog’s demise was comparable to the 1998 murder of James Byrd, the African-American man who was dragged to death in Texas.

Contrast Henderson’s crime and punishment with that of Brian Peterson and Amy Grossberg. In the spring of 1998 the pair pled guilty to causing the death of their newborn son two years earlier. The baby’s body was found wrapped in plastic and lying in a dumpster outside a motel in Delaware.

The couple, who were both college freshman in November of 1996, the time of the crime, said that they believed the child was stillborn when they placed him in the trash bin. However, the medical examiner’s report indicated the baby had died of skull fractures.

Peterson and Grossberg both plead guilty to manslaughter. As a result, Peterson received a two-year sentence but served only 18 months. Grossberg was sentenced to two and a half years and was released after serving not quite two years. For the record, the judge could have given a maximum sentence of ten years to each.

So, young man admits to killing a dog and receives a seven year sentence. A couple pleads guilty to causing the death of their own flesh and blood and is sentenced to less than three years. What’s wrong with this picture?

The mutilation of the canine in Oregon was a horrible crime and indicates a twisted mind in need of help. I do not quibble with the seven-year sentence Henderson received. However, when a parent takes the life of his or her innocent infant, even seven years behind bars would seem like a lenient sentence.

Even if you buy Peterson and Grossberg’s story that they thought the child was dead at birth, their cavalier attitude toward their newborn son is appalling. Simply tossing a lifeless baby in the trash like a dead rat seems to deserve more than a minimum sentence.

If the judicial contrast between these crimes is not disturbing enough, the public reaction should be. People from around the country reacted strongly to the dog’s death. The result was a three foot stack of e-mails, faxes, and letters condemning the killer and calling for an even harsher punishment. One official handling the response to the canine killing said, “Without a doubt, this is the most public reaction we’ve ever had to a crime in the 15 years I’ve been here.”

How did American society arrive at a place where taking a dog’s life is tantamount to the killing of a new born infant? It began 31 years ago when the Supreme Court slithered out on a slippery moral slope and legalized abortion on demand. The value of life has been sliding down hill ever since.

There are signs the worth of human life is making a comeback in the United States. Abortion rates have declined in recent years, young people by the scores now espouse a pro-life philosophy and abortion-performing clinics continue to close. However, don’t expect life in America to regain its true value until Roe v. Wade has been repealed.

© 2004 Kelly Boggs - All Rights Reserved

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A native of Texas, Kelly Boggs now makes his home in the Pacific Northwest. He is the pastor of Valley Baptist Church located at McMinnville, Oregon. He also serves as the Chairman of the Ethics and Religious Commission for the Northwest Baptist Convention. He is a graduate of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In addition to his columns, Kelly writes a weekly opinion piece for Baptist Press, the official news agency of the 16-million member Southern Baptist Convention. His columns have appeared in numerous regional and national publications including the Washington Times. Kelly has been a guest on a variety of radio and television programs to discuss the critical issues facing America. He recently launched The Sentinel Institute which is dedicated to shining the light of truth into the fog of popular culture. You can visit the SI web site at  E-Mail







"So, young man admits to killing a dog and receives a seven year sentence. A couple pleads guilty to causing the death of their own flesh and blood and is sentenced to less than three years. What’s wrong with this picture?"