Women Shouldn’t Be Charged With Murder in Stillbirths, California AG Says – Los Angeles

What to Know

  • Kings County prosecutors in 2019 were accused of murdering a woman for using methamphetamines during stillbirth. The charges were dismissed by a judge in May.
  • After being charged with similar charges in 2017, a second woman is challenging her conviction. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced for manslaughter.
  • Bonta stated that his interpretation did not include postpartum situations like the case of a Mendocino County mother convicted last year for the death her baby due to methamphetamine found in her breast milk.

California’s top law enforcement official, Roberto Castro, said Thursday that women shouldn’t be accused of murder in the case of a fetus who dies.

After two times that San Joaquin Valley Kings County prosecutors had charged women with, Attorney General Rob Bonta took action. “fetal murder,”They claimed their drug use had led to stillbirths. He issued Alerts across the state intended to advise law enforcement officials on how to interpret state law.

Kings County prosecutors in 2019 were accused of murdering a woman for using methamphetamines during stillbirth. The charges were dismissed by a judge in May.

The death of the baby girl “was blamed, without scientific basis, on her consumption of a controlled substance,”Samantha Lee, a staff attorney at National Advocates for Pregnant Women, represented her.

After being charged with similar charges in 2017, a second woman is challenging her conviction. She pleaded guilty and was sentenced for manslaughter.

Bonta stated that a pregnant woman can’t be charged with the murder of an unborn foetus under California’s murder statute based on her pregnancy outcome. In such cases, he said that lesser charges like manslaughter and other lesser crimes do not apply.

“It’s an experience that should be met with an outreached hand, not handcuffs and murder charges,”Bonta spoke.

Philip Esbenshade is the Kings County Executive Assistant District Attorney. “are not about abortion nor women’s reproductive rights in any way.”

Alert Bonta “fails to include important and relevant specific facts”This shows that the woman in 2017 was repeatedly using methamphetamine. “directly resulted in the death of a viable fetus,”He said so, noting that her plea agreement was upheld in appeal.

Bonta’s legal interpretation was limited to California’s murder statute. He wouldn’t comment on whether other charges such as reckless endangerment and child endangerment might be appropriate in certain circumstances. He also said that his interpretation didn’t cover post-partum circumstances, such as the last year’s conviction of a Mendocino County mom for causing the death her baby with methamphetamine breast milk.

“But generally, California law does not criminalize pregnancy loss,”He said.

Bonta stated that he sent the alert to the request of the California Future of Abortion CouncilThe group includes more than 40 advocacy and abortion providers.

Both the text of Penal Code section 187 and the intent of the Legislature show that California laws do not criminalize a woman’s own actions that might result in a miscarriage or stillbirth, he said.

Bonta stated that the 1970 law was amended to include the death a fetus. However, the legislature intended to criminalize violence against pregnant women that causes fetal death. The intent, he said, was never to include a woman’s own actions that might result in a miscarriage or stillbirth.

California defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.”It excludes all acts that could be considered illegal. “was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.”

Bonta stated that criminalizing pregnant women’s actions and inactions could have dangerous consequences. According to Bonta, pregnant and addicted women may avoid seeking medical care because of the possibility that their substance abuse could result in criminal prosecution. He also said that it would lead to unwarranted law enforcement reviews of stillbirths and miscarriages.

Both are quite common, he said, citing statistics showing that one in 10 pregnancies ends in the first three months, and stillbirths in one in 160 births.

Jodi Hicks (president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California), supported Bonta during an online news conference. She decried the prosecutions. “rogue district attorneys.”

Farah Diaz–Tello, senior counsel, and legal director for If/When/How Lawyering for Reproductive Justice said that such prosecutions would adversely affect people living on the margins of society because of race, poverty, or immigration status.

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