A woman who lost her baby because of drug abuse pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter in 2018 to escape a murder charge and was sentenced to 11 years in prison – but on Wednesday a judge in Kings County Superior Court overturned both the conviction and the sentence. California's murder law was amended in 1970 to include the death of a baby; but in January, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal interpretation arguing that the law was designed to punish, for example, a man who kills a woman's preborn child – but not a pregnant mother who kills her baby.
The judge in Wednesday's ruling followed suit, ruling that the state's voluntary manslaughter law doesn't apply to the unborn. "There is no crime in California of manslaughter of a fetus," wrote Judge Valerie Chrissakis.
That judge's decision, says Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, make no sense.
"It is completely illogical to say that the preborn is a person and protected from murder if another individual decides to cause that preborn to die and miscarry versus the mother who sloppily or intentionally or unintentionally causes the same result," the attorney tells AFN.
Dacus argues that if a preborn child is a "person" under law, it makes no difference who causes the child's death: it's still murder.
"This decision opens the door for women to be able to abuse their preborn child, use illegal drugs, engage in all kinds of risky behavior showing no respect at all for the safety and health of their preborn baby," he laments.
The PJI founder argues that either the ruling needs to be appealed, or the legislature needs to take action by passing a law to reverse the decision.