Thursday, December 24, 2020

High court allows murder charge after fetus is stillborn

Smoking increases the risk of still birth, as does drinking alcohol.  Are they going to charge women who smoked or drank during pregnancy and had a still birth with murder?



Thu, December 24, 2020, 2:18 PM EST

The California Supreme Court declined to stop the prosecution of a woman who was charged with murder after authorities said she used methamphetamine before her fetus was stillborn.


Chelsea Becker of Hanford has remained in custody on $2 million bail since the 2019 stillbirth. Police say methamphetamine was found in the fetus and that Becker, who was 8½ months pregnant at the time of the stillbirth, acknowledged using the drug. Becker, 26, has pleaded not guilty.

Supporters say substance use disorder is a medical condition, not a crime, and that there is not enough evidence to say methamphetamine use causes stillbirths.

Philip Esbenshade, executive assistant to Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes, said the law authorizes a murder charge for “the reckless or indifferent unlawful conduct of a mother that results in the unlawful death of her fetus.”


The 1970 California law allowing a murder charge does not say whether the pregnant woman herself can be charged. But it lists circumstances that would bar prosecution, including legal abortion, medical intervention to save the woman’s life, or any act that was “solicited, aided, abetted or consented to by the mother of the fetus.”

 [It appears that this law would not apply to charging the mother in this case.]

No comments:

Post a Comment