Friday, December 18, 2009
Mother kills newborn, can’t be charged
The caller said a woman in her early 20s was in labor. When deputies arrived, they discovered the baby had actually been born around 1:00a.m., about ten hours earlier. Investigators say the baby was already dead when deputies got there.
Investigators tell WSLS the baby’s airway was still blocked. They say the baby was under bedding and had been suffocated by her mother. Investigators say because the mother and baby were still connected by the umbilical cord and placenta, state law does not consider the baby to be a separate life. Therefore, the mother cannot be charged.
“In the state of Virginia as long as the umbilical cord is attached and the placenta is still in the mother, if the baby comes out alive the mother can do whatever she wants to with that baby to kill it.“, says Investigator Tracy Emerson. “She could shoot the baby, stab the baby. As long as it’s still attached to her in some form by umbilical cord or something it’s no crime in the state of Virginia.“
The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office and Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office worked unsuccessfully to get the law changed after another baby died in the county in a similar case. Emerson says they asked two delegates and one state senator to take the issue up in the General Assembly. He says the three lawmakers refused because they felt the issue was too close to the abortion issue.
Republican State Senator Steve Newman announced today that the Division of Legislative Services has begun drafting legislation to ensure that a life cannot be legally taken after a child is born not withstanding its connection to the umbilical cord.