Monday, October 22, 2007

One murder charge or two?

Interesting program tonight on CTV's The Verdict.

The question was surrounding murders of pregnant women, and whether there should be two murder charges or one.

Most of the arguments on both sides were nothing new, but I did catch one intriguing point that the opponents of the two-charge option were trying to advance - that there is no gain in making the extra murder charge because in Canada just one life sentence is served for first-degree murders, or something along that line (if I've got that wrong, please correct me).

Anyway, the other side made the point that if a woman and her already born child were both murdered, then there would be two murder charges; so what's the difference?

The website should be updated soon with the new episode. Definitely worth the time to watch what continues to be a very emotional and complex issue.

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Update: Great article here by Father Raymond J. De Souza - There's no justice in silence (Post Oct. 25):

...The desire to maintain our permissive abortion regime should not prevent the criminal law from addressing the reality of crimes against pregnant women. A crime against an expectant mother is something different -- there is real trauma to the mother, if she survives the violence, resulting from the injury or death to her child -- to say nothing of the child. The Roxanne Fernando case makes it all the more clear; without the child, there would have been no crime. The law should not have to pretend otherwise.

Excellent point.


SUZANNE said...

I really enjoyed the show. One problem though was that they always assumed the mother would die in these cases. That's not always the case. The charge of assault (on the woman) does not quite reflect the gravity of the crime. Injuries can be healed. The loss of an unborn child is forever.

SouthernOntarioan said...

About the two for one deal on life sentences:

Its possible to serve the sentences for your crimes consecutively or concurrently. That is, a criminal charged with murder and armed robbery might be allowed to serve his time for armed robbery AND murder at the same time. In which case, he/she simply serves the longest sentence.

However, its possible that they may serve their time one after another depending on the judges verdict. (I think.. I'm a little rusty on this). In the USA this is very common, which is why often you hear about criminals being sentenced to 340 years in jail or something.

I was just thinking the same thing as suzanne. What if the assault is meant to kill the baby but leave the mother alive and well? Think about an angry father-to-be who doesn't want to pay child support as an example. Is that murder? I believe however there is a way to charge a person for that. Assault causing miscarriage or something or another. I'd have to look it up.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Thanks for the info, S.O.

That's right. They didn't address that possibility of a man driving a knife through the mother's abdomen in an attempt to kill the baby, yet the woman surviving the assault.

In the present situation, if the baby died but the mother somehow survived, then there would be no murder charge at all - it would likely be some form of assault; especially if his intention was only to kill the child.

What a barbaric country we live in.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

The most heartbreaking moment in that show was when the mother of a pregnant murder victim talked about holding her dead grandson in her arms. She said he was a perfect baby boy except for the bullet hole on his side.

Attila said...

This might be an interesting topic to watch because of its implications. It'll sure be hard to argue againts limiting abortion if we ever get to the point of charging someone for two murders when a pregnant woman is killed.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

It'll sure be hard to argue againts limiting abortion if we ever get to the point of charging someone for two murders when a pregnant woman is killed.

Attila, that is the problem right there. Somehow the pro-choicers are paranoid about the implications of this. To me it says that there is an underlying moral issue that no one wants to address.

Unfortunately we would rather stick our collective heads in the sand than discuss it.

Paula Todd made an excellent point at the end that whatever side you are on, the important thing is to be respectful in any discussion because emotions are so high on this issue.

Anonymous said...

Two charges should be made. I'm a pro-choicer. In this case, the mother chose to have her child - the murderer killed it. 8 months old is pretty much full grown - it is a person. If she happened to have had the child early and the murderer killed both it would be two murders.

The murderer took her choice away.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

In this case, the mother chose to have her child - the murderer killed it.

Thank you, Anon. That is the point one of the guests was trying to make on the show. From that POV, it is a Pro-choice issue.

If you feel strongly enough about this, please contact your local MP and let him or her know you are pro-choice. Thanks!