Fetal Homicide


Topic: Fetal Homicide

Discuss the following questions concerning the state of fetal homicide law. While some discussion of abortion is natural in this assignment, be sure that you answer the questions about fetal homicide law, which is the focus of this section.

Why is it in the public’s interest to make it a separate crime to kill a fetus?
Is there a conflict between fetal homicide laws and abortion rights? If so, how is the conflict resolved?
There are 3 standards used to determine whether a fetus is a “person” for purposes of homicide law: the born-alive standard, the viability standard, and the conceptions standard. Discuss each standard and explain which standard should be used in modern statutes.
Find and provide a copy of a fetal homicide statute.

Sample paper

 Fetal Homicide

Throughout the years, the debate over fetal rights has been faced with several controversies, especially in the legislative arena. With the increasing trend in violence against women, many states have recognized the need to sensitize the public eye on the importance of violence crimes committed against pregnant women and subsequently, the rights of the fetus (Smith, 1999). Conversely, the law regards this protection rights under the fetal homicide or the feticide laws. For most pro-life advocates, the laws provide protection for both the unborn children and their mothers

There is a sharp contrast in most of our legal systems when it comes to addressing the issue of abortion versus fetal homicide. On one hand, it is legal for an unborn baby to be killed as per the mother’s consent for an abortion case while the fetal homicide laws consider the unborn as persons and consequently allow for the prosecution of individuals who harm the fetus without the mother’s consent. Several measures have been put in place to harmonize the situation in the best interest of both the mother and the unborn child.

It is important however to recognize that there is cohesion between the rights that fetal homicide and abortion rights provide (Smith, 1999). While some may regard the fetal homicide laws as a defense mechanism for the unborn child, it is crucial to understand that both of the legal rights provide for the protection of the mother’s right. Conversely, most states only prosecute individuals who kill the fetus without the consent of the mother since the fetus is regarded as the mother’s property.

Related: Crime Prevention

The born alive rule embeds its principles to a child born alive. It holds on to the idea that criminal laws such as assault can only apply to a child born alive. The U.S court system however overruled this law as outdated.

The fetus is considered viable at the start of the 24th to the 28th week of pregnancy. The section of the law places the interest of the mother on the front and allows for abortion only in exceptional medical circumstances calling for it (Smith, 1999).

The conception standard creates for rights of the fetus from conception point. Consequently, the fetus is regarded a human being and is accorded the rights of a normal person. As a result, harming the fetus comes with consequences for the culprits.

The viable fetal standard should be applied in the contemporary society since it is only governed by the medical condition of the expectant woman.


Smith, S. L. (1999). Fetal Homicide: Woman or Fetus as Victim-A Survey of Current State Approaches and Recommendations for Future State Application. Wm. & Mary L. Rev., 41, 1845.


Defendants and Victims

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