Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Fetal homicide laws in WA?

On Sunday, the Perth newspapers carried the story that fetal homicide laws are to be introduced into Western Australia later this year.  A similar law exists in Queensland. 

In the rest of Australia however, under present laws, an unborn fetus has no legal status and is not recognised by the courts.

In an online poll on the site of the report asking "Do you agree with new laws to legally recognise an unborn baby as a human life?"  67% of respondants have answered 'yes'.

There are similar laws in different states across the USA.  Thirty eight states have fetal homicide laws.

At least 20 states in the USA have fetal homicide laws that apply to the earliest stages of pregnancy, that is "any state of gestation," "conception," "fertilization" or "post-fertilization".

The WA Australian Medical Association (AMA) - the doctors' union, has declared the laws are good, because it enables "reckless" mothers to be charged if there is a misadventure.

What do you think are the problems or benefits inherent in this proposed law?


Anonymous said...

Bei Bei Shuai is what happens, because of unfortunate circumstances she tried to commit suicide while heavily pregnant (8 months), she was rescued in time but her fetus didn't make it. Indiana is now using the Fetal Homicide laws to prosecute and persecute her.

What happens when laws like this are placed into law is that they are often misapplied like in Bei's case. These laws were meant to be able to prosecute abusive partners with an additional charge like in the case of Laci Peterson.

These laws are not a good idea because prosecutors end up using these laws against the mother.

Carolyn Hastie said...

I agree. The way the law is used in cases like that of Bei Bei Shuai is abominable and provides a window into what's possible with such a law.

It seems strange to me that the woman who is abused is not considered worthy of protection by the law in a significant way, rather than seeking to focus on her fetus.