Newsbreak

Amended California bill with alleged loophole allowing for infanticide passes committee

California

Assembly Bill 2223 in California passed the Assembly Health Committee in a vote of 11-3 on Tuesday, moving the bill, which several legal experts believe creates a loophole for infanticide, to a third house committee.

While proponents of the bill argue it will help protect parents from prosecution if their baby is stillborn due to drug use or a pregnancy-related complication, the wording of the bill, some say, allows a loophole for infanticide. Following an April 6 amendment, the bill states:

Notwithstanding any other law, a person shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability or penalty, or otherwise deprived of their rights under this article, based on their actions or omissions with respect to their pregnancy or actual, potential, or alleged pregnancy outcome, including miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion, or perinatal death due to a pregnancy-related cause. (emphasis added)

The bill fails to define what is meant by “perinatal death” or “pregnancy-related cause,” which means that abortion survivors, preterm babies, or babies with health complications may be left to die, according to several legal experts. The perinatal period is defined differently by different medical groups, and can extend as long as 24 months after the child’s birth, but is widely accepted as extending at least 28 days following the child’s birth.

READ: How California could become a ‘sanctuary for the unborn’ instead of an abortion sanctuary

“These amendments added ‘perinatal death due to pregnancy related cause,’” explained Theresa Brennan, Esq., president of Right to Life League. “The amendments do not address the fact that the bill would continue to chill reporting and investigations of ANY perinatal death because, whether that death was ‘pregnancy related’ or not could only be determined after investigation. If it turned out the infant’s death was ‘pregnancy related,’ a term which is undefined, overbroad, and meaningless since even birth is pregnancy related, an immediate private cause of action (with damages starting at $25,000 and attorney’s fees) could be taken against the person who did the investigation. The real aim of this bill is to cover up and block any investigation into late term chemical abortions which studies have proven will result in live births.”

The bill would also further cement existing California laws that prevent the prosecution of mothers who deliver stillborn babies due to drug use or pregnancy-related causes. As reported by the AP, Adora Perez spent four years in prison for the death of her stillborn baby due to her use of drugs during her pregnancy. She was charged with murder and agreed to plead no contest to a manslaughter charge to avoid a longer prison sentence. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison, but after four years, a judge overturned that sentence, saying, “there is no crime in California of manslaughter of a fetus.” The judge sent the case back to the district attorney’s office, which is now seeking a murder charge.

Assembly Bill 2223, if it becomes law, would allow women to sue prosecutors for charging them with a crime related to their babies’ deaths. District attorneys could face a fine of $25,000, a threat that could — in theory — prevent them from investigating the deaths of babies, even if that child’s death occurred under suspicious or illegal circumstances.

Editor’s Note: This article will continue to be updated.

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