Homicide of a Fetus Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Fetal Homicide

The objective of this study is to answer the question of what is the public policy rationale for making it a separate crime to kill a fetus? This study will additionally answer as to how are fetal homicide laws reconciled with the definition of person-hood for the purpose of abortion laws. There are three standards used to determine whether a fetus is a person for purposes of homicide laws including the born-alive standard, the viability standard and the conceptions standard. Each standard will be explained and which standard should be used in modern statutes.

In the case of People v. Archerd, Supreme Court of California (1970) 3 Cal 3d 615, 91 Ca. Rptr, 397, 477 P.2d 421 it is reported that the Defendant married several women between 1947 and 1966 and following each woman taking out a life insurance policy she died after several hours in a coma. The Defendant was eventually convicted of killing three of the women. Under the common law it is reported that killing a fetus is not held to be homicide since the homicide statutes set out the requirement that a person or human being was killed and failed to include a fetus that was killed. (Gardner and Anderson, 2012, paraphrased)

I. Statutes on Fetus Homicide

In some states, including Missouri along with 17 other states it is reported that the laws acknowledge a fetus as being alive at the time of conception. (Montaldo, 2014) The case of Keeler v. Superior Court, 470, P.2d 617 (1970) the California Supreme Court ruled that the rule of 'born alive' barred conviction for killing a fetus because the fetus had not been born alive. However, following the decision in Keeler the statutes in California were changed and began to define murder as "the unlawful killing of a human being or a fetus, with malice aforethought." (Gardner and Anderson, 2012, p. 253) The question of the viability of the…

Sources Used in Document:


Gardner, TJ and Anderson, TM (2012) Homicide. Chapter 10. Cengage Learning, 2012.

Montaldo, C. (2014) Fetal Homicide: A Question of when do We Become Human. Crime Issues and Controversies. About.com. Retrieved from: http://crime.about.com/od/issues/a/fetalhomicide.htm

When is the Death of a Fetus Homicide? (nd) Center for Homicide Research Retrieved from: http://homicidecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/When-is-the-Death-of-a-Fetus-a-Homicide.pdf

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