If in killing a woman her unborn baby is killed as well...

Charge the killer with a double murder or not?

Suppose she doesn't die but the baby does?

Views: 1413

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

That is an "either/or" question that I believe is called a "false dichotomy", which you usually are not guilty of.

One of the reasons I think you cannot treat your scenario as a double-homicide is simply that you cannot kill off the pregnant woman, yet leave the fetus alive.

Nobody is saying that the fetus doesn't matter at all.  We are simply trying to ascertain how it would be appropriate to apply a definition to the crime, and what penalties should apply.

Perhaps it is feasible to have a different penalty for killing a pregnant woman as opposed to a non-pregnant woman, but other than giving it a special name (aggravated murder perhaps?) I don't see what you are trying to achieve. It is not like the sentencing is decided on from a label based logarithm table - the judge does get quite a broad input to sentencing.

Certainly I cannot see that there is anything a new category of offense would achieve that would be seen as more of a deterrent.  "I was going to murder that woman, but now I know that she is pregnant, I'll reconsider"?.  So it looks to me as if giving special crime status to a killed fetus falls more into the 'vengeance' category rather than the 'punishment' or 'deterrent' ones.

...you cannot kill off the pregnant woman, yet leave the fetus alive.

Technically, with medical intervention, it does happen, but the underlying point seems correct. You cannot target only one with violence without affecting the other.

Nobody is saying that the fetus doesn't matter at all.  We are simply trying to ascertain how it would be appropriate to apply a definition to the crime, and what penalties should apply.


Certainly I cannot see that there is anything a new category of offense would achieve...

It is, from my perspective, simply a matter of characterizing the harm caused correctly so that the legal response can reflect it properly. In terms of how the law should respond... well, I don't think the current system actually works. My position on that subject is represented in this thread.

Babies are removed from the bodies of dead mothers all the time. The mother might have died in an accident, but if the baby is viable and relatively uninjured, it can be surgically removed.

All the time?  Evidence please

I googled "baby removed from dead mother" and got 54,000,000 links. They can't all be about the same incident. 

What makes you so skeptical, anyway? Pregnant women are killed in accidents or are murdered or die by disease very frequently (do I need to prove that as well?). Simply because the mother dies, the baby doesn't die automatically. They can be saved if they are removed from the womb quickly enough (and assuming they are viable as well, of course). I say "all the time" because I can remember several incidents, including a couple in which the mother was murdered so that her baby could be taken from her.

Blimey, Unseen, I asked for evidence because you said, "all the time".  I can imagine fetuses might be "saved" if the pregnancy is in the last two or three months. To me, "all the time" makes the process sound almost casually common.

As to what makes me so skeptical?  Absolutes make me skeptical. Unsupported information makes me skeptical.  My entire thought process makes me skeptical.

Strega, by "all the time" I didn't mean anywhere during the growth cycle of the fetus. It applies only to viable fetuses. 

Since babies are saved from dead mothers all over the world and not just in the US, I'm sure it must happen all the time. By which I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if babies are saved from dead mothers at least several times a day.

BTW, "all the time" isn't an absolute. "Always" is an absolute.


"I googled "baby removed from dead mother" and got 54,000,000 links."

I googled "Unseen" and got 45,700,000 links...HOLY SHIT how many of you are there???

Maybe a bunch of links isn't evidence of anything useful.

It happens often enough for me to say it happens all the time (by which I mean often enough that I don't slap my forehead in amazement anymore). These are the result of about 20 minutes of googling, and all happened in the U.S. within a 12-month period:

6/5/2012 http://www.wlfi.com/dpp/news/local/2-killed-in-fiery-us-231-crash-b...

7/6/2012 http://www.kpho.com/story/18961667/baby-fighting-for-life-after-pre...

8/5/2012 http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Unborn-baby-saved-in-rollover-crash-...

9/29/2012 http://eastgreenwich.patch.com/articles/pregnant-woman-killed-in-ro...

12/27/2012 http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/miracle-baby-survives-cras...

1/6/2013 http://www.toledoblade.com/Police-Fire/2013/01/05/Husband-was-drivi...

3/3/2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57572289/infant-delivered-after...

Also, the following article lists three instances of women murdered then their babies cut out of them:


Also, what would your position be in the event they both died?

Homicide and feticide, one count each.

What would you define as the distinction between feticide and homicide?

Homicide is primarily a crime against the individual killed. Unlawful feticide* would primarily be a crime against the parents of the fetus.

*I don't actually care what the crime would be called. Feticide is simply an existing term for terminating a fetus, so I've borrowed it for the sake of this dialogue.

I can't say. I don't agree with the current system, and I don't know what would be most effective.

On the Criminal side what sentences have already been handed down for the defendant when the victim has receive a permanent injury.  An example would be where the victim lost their spleen, uterus or limb as a result of the criminal action.

On the Civil side what  monetary awards that have already been handed down for the emotional loss in similar cases?  An example would be where a woman had entered a hospital for a routine procedure, had received the wrong medication which caused a spontaneous abortion.

There will be plenty of existing cases in the law library.



In Defense of ‘Islamophobia’

Started by Brian Daurelle in Society. Last reply by Erock68la 2 hours ago. 201 Replies

Ear-piercing a baby

Started by Simon Mathews in Atheist Parenting. Last reply by Ed 4 hours ago. 1 Reply

Torture Report release today

Started by Unseen in Ethics & Morals. Last reply by Virgil 4 hours ago. 114 Replies

Why do we tolerate this?

Started by Belle Rose in Crime and Punishment. Last reply by Ron Humphrey 5 hours ago. 20 Replies

My Grandpa died last week

Started by Physeter in Small Talk. Last reply by Simon Mathews 9 hours ago. 6 Replies

Blog Posts

Pabst Blue Ribbon to the rescue!

Posted by Ed on December 15, 2014 at 9:33pm 0 Comments

Finally, a cool billboard in Arkansas!

Posted by Ed on December 15, 2014 at 8:21am 2 Comments

Atheist Sites

Services we love!

We are in love with our Amazon

Book Store!

Gadget Nerd? Check out Giz Gad!

Advertise with ThinkAtheist.com

In need a of a professional web site? Check out the good folks at Clear Space Media

© 2014   Created by umar.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service