A Texas lawmaker wants to make murdering your baby under one year of age much less of a big deal if a jury decides that you suffered from post-partum syndrome. The law, introduced by Democrat Jessica Farrer, would make such crimes "infanticide" rather than regular murder, with a maximum sentence of 2 years in jail. It was perhaps not good strategy to have the bill endorsed by the attorney who defended Andrea Yates.
But some might try to argue that the sentencing phase of trial often takes stressors into account and that this move is merely more of the same. But that does not seem correct. For one thing, we do not have separate classes of crime on the books with extreme reduction in sentencing for people who kill their nagging wives or bullying employers. Imagine if a murder charge with a possibility of life imprisonment were reduced to a conviction for "employer-icide" if a jury concluded that your "judgement was impaired" by anger and pain caused by the persistent nastiness of your employer.
The threshhold here is so minimal that nearly any woman who murders her child under one year will be able to claim the exemption. The jury must merely judge that her "judgement was impaired because of childbirth or lactation," an extremely low standard that does not even come close to "not guilty by reason of insanity."
And if juries do take into account judgement impairment at all at the sentencing phase, why do we need a special law for this type of judgement impairment and stress, especially a law that automatically reduces the sentence so drastically?
I believe that the reason a law of this sort is even introduced (though hopefully it will not pass) is because a certain group of people have more sympathy for mothers who murder their newborns than they have for those who murder adults, even if the stress upon the murderer of an adult is sometimes at least as great as the stress upon a new mother. I move that this law be called the "Steven Pinker Infanticide Act of 2009" and booed off the floor accordingly.
Note: Before anyone else brings it up, I should say that I speak here as a woman who has suffered from post-partum depression.