Thursday, December 17, 2009

After death of newborn in Campbell Co. General Assembly looks to close loophole

After charges were not filed in the questionable death of a newborn child in Campbell County last Friday, GOP legislators, under the lead of Senator Steve Newman, with the assistance of Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli, Campbell County Commonwealth's Attorney Neil Vener, and Campbell County Sheriff Terry Gaddy are looking to pass legislation to close this loophole in order to protect innocent life in future situations.

According to the Lynchburg News and Advance:

Deputies were called to a home in the 1200 block of Lone Jack Road in Rustburg about 11 a.m. Friday. The caller said a woman in her early 20s was in labor.
When deputies arrived, they discovered the baby had actually been born around 1 a.m., about 10 hours earlier. Investigators said the baby was already dead when deputies got there.
Investigators told WSLS the baby’s airway was blocked. They said the baby was under bedding and had been suffocated by her mother. Investigators said because the mother and baby were still connected by the umbilical cord and placenta, state law does not consider the baby to be a separate life. Therefore, the mother cannot be charged.

 You can read the whole statment regarding the legislation from Senator Newman here.

The general problem with the law is that the child was still attached via the umbilical cord at the time of death. In order for charges to be filed in Virginia under the current law the following must be established: (1) the child must have been born alive; (2) the child had an independent and separate existence from its mother; and, (3) the accused was the criminal agent that caused the infant’s death. So in the case number two of the above was not completly true and the mother gets off free.

Legislation being put forth will essentially abolish this loophole and will allow charges to be filed if another case like this were to occur. Delegates Kathy Byron and Ben Cline will lead action on this legislation on the House of Delegates side and Senator Robert Hurt will be Senator Newman's co-sponsor in the Senate.

Regarding the legislation Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli said today:
“I have spoken to Senator Newman about the tragic and appalling circumstances of the baby’s death, and I certainly will make the resources of the Attorney General’s office available to help make sure this can never happen again.  This situation cries out for action, and I will support efforts to fix what appears to be a horrific loophole in our laws.”

This whole situation seems to be a great travesty and certainly a call for action to our lawmakers. The action by Senator Newman as well as the other elected officials who are stepping up to close this loophole should certianly be commended as well as a testament to how fortunate we are in Virginia to have elected officials who consider protection of the right to life a serious priority.

Remember: If a person does not have the right to life, all other rights then become unavailable.

Cross Posted at VA Social Conservative

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