A Bill to ban the malicious killing of an unborn child should be introduced.
The West Australian newspaper recently reported the case of a man who was accused of punching his pregnant girlfriend in the abdomen in 1996 while shouting “I’ll kill the f…ing baby!”. His actions resulted a miscarriage, but he was never charged with killing the baby.
The same man was recently charged with dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm to another girlfriend who was eight months pregnant.The young woman also lost her baby.The officer in charge of the crash investigation said that the man could not be charged with killing the baby because it had to be born alive to be considered a “human being” for criminal purposes.
The mother of the young woman who lost her child in the car accident claimed that Australia should adopt “foetal homicide” laws similar to those in Queensland and some US states. She said, “that assault took my grandchild’s life. Whether the baby is inside or outside the stomach it is still a human being, the only difference is a few layers of skin. How can you say that it is not a living person and it’s not murder?”
The law in Western Australia has not always condoned the killing of an unborn child. The Criminal Code Act 1902, section 290 “Killing of unborn child” stated: “Any person who… prevents the child from being born alive by any act or omission …would be deemed to have unlawfully killed the child, and is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for life.”
When the Western Australian Parliament passed The Acts Amendment (Abortion) Act 1998 on 21 May 1998, it then proceeded to drastically amend the Criminal Code, including the deletion of section 290, which meant there was no protection in law of the unborn child, no matter how brutal the assault.
It is gravely wrong and illogical to ignore the rights of the unborn child. It is a unique human being, who from its beginning has all the genetic material it will ever have.
Western Australian law is not in accord with the 1924 United Nations Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, or the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (adopted by UN General Assembly on 20 November 1959), which state “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth”.
Since the deletion of section 290 there has been a need for a new Act to protect the unborn child from malicious acts causing death.
Readers should contact their Member of State Parliament and request legislation to correct this anomaly.