Special "infanticide" laws are bad laws. I have blogged about them before here. (See also here.) These are laws that create a special category of crime called "infanticide," separate from murder, for mothers who kill their newborn children, supposedly under special (though vaguely defined) post-partum stress.
This is a classic case of the old adage that hard cases make bad law. In essence, such laws take something that may be a mitigating factor in certain cases--a woman's being partially mentally unhinged by post-partum depression--and use that as a reason to create a presumption that a mother who kills her newborn baby is not to be held responsible or punished. This, in essence, makes it open season on newborns, at least where their mothers are concerned. These are what one commentator in one of my threads called "needs killin'" laws for newborn babies. And that's a bad, bad thing.
It's easy enough to see that we would react differently--at least, we in the West would react differently--if such laws were proposed in other areas. For example, some Middle Eastern countries have special laws for male family members who kill their womenfolk when under the special "stress" of believing that the women have "dishonored" the family. The emotion the men might feel in these cases is considered so severely mitigating that a whole class of crime is created under which the penalties are extremely light. Similarly, while we might feel sorry for a husband with a seriously nasty wife who nagged him day and night, it would be a very bad idea to have a special category of "nagging wife killing," separate from murder, for which a man gets only a light sentence.
But somehow, when it comes to newborn infants, people can't see the problem, and quite a few foreign jurisdictions, including Canada, have this special crime called "infanticide" with a seriously limited sentence attached to it.
Which brings me to the present story: Katrina Effert has been repeatedly convicted by juries of murdering her newborn baby. The crime was apparently premeditated. She hid her pregnancy from her parents, gave birth secretly in their bathroom, strangled her newborn son, and threw his body over a fence. Each time a jury convicts her of murder, a higher court throws out the conviction. Most recently, the Alberta Court of Appeals overturned her conviction and replaced it with a conviction for the lesser crime (!) of "infanticide." On Friday, Justice Joanne Veit of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench gave Effert a three-year suspended sentence, and Effert walked free. Here was what Veit had to say as part of her reasoning:
Canada’s lack of an abortion law indicates that “while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support.”
“Naturally, Canadians are grieved by an infant’s death, especially at the hands of the infant’s mother, but Canadians also grieve for the mother,” she added.
So Effert was just engaging in a little last-minute birth control, using a less-than-ideal method, and Canadians "grieve for" her as the mother. (Why do they grieve for her? Because it was such a pain to have to do such a messy thing as strangling her baby and throwing him over the fence?)
Supposedly, the special infanticide law requires positive evidence that the mother was mentally disturbed. This requirement turned out to be just as paper-thin as one might have expected. Veit decided that Effert was "without support" (and hence mentally disturbed?) apparently because she chose to hide her pregnancy from her parents and give birth alone! Um, yeah, that makes sense. Wow, what a high evidential standard for mental disturbance. See above on open season on newborns.
The connection to abortion is both shocking and predictable. Veit is without shame. She's telling it straight: If a woman can kill her baby right up to birth, because of those "onerous demands" of pregnancy and childbirth, why not immediately after? One might try to answer, "Well, because the onerous demands of pregnancy and childbirth are over at that point, right?" But let's not worry about logic. Let's get to the heart of the matter: Abortion is about being made a non-mother after having become a mother. Abortion is about getting rid of that unwanted baby, er, I mean, unwanted pregnancy. And a woman has a right, darnit, to be made a non-mother if she wants to. If she waits a little extra time to do that and has to strangle the baby after birth, so be it.
This has been coming for a long time. Let's not forget that the President of the United States, while an Illinois Senator, was specially solicitous for those poor abortionists who might be "burdened" by a Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. They might actually have to do something if the baby wasn't just "coming out limp and dead." How onerous. We can't have that.
Infanticide was always the next step. Let's hope Texas never passed that special infanticide law I blogged about here. Anybody know? (A quick Google search leads me to think that the proposal died somewhere along the way. Good thing. If it hadn't, it would definitely have needed to be strangled.)