Draft Legislation sees tougher sentencing but no separate criminal offence for killing the unborn.
New Draft Legislation from Premier Gladys Berejiklian would see the inclusion of a “circumstance of aggravation” and increased minimum sentencing for offences against a pregnant woman resulting in the loss of an unborn child, but would not recognise harm to the child as an individual offence.
However Liberal Party MPs Kevin Conolly and Tanya Davies criticised the draft as contrary to the Premier’s pre-election promises.
“We promised the community that we would pass a law which would see somebody who was guilty of an offence that caused the death of an unborn child be held to account explicitly for that death,” said Mr. Conolly. “That’s the goal we’re after.”
Tanya Davies said she was both frustrated and disappointed with what was handed to the party room on Tuesday.
“What we had yesterday was not what Gladys promised,” said Mrs. Davies. “I’m calling on the Premier and the government to honour the memory of these lost children.
“Children who the mothers wanted, who their families wanted, let’s respect their wishes and let’s recognise the absolute traumatic circumstances where their wishes were destroyed.”
“I’m calling on the Premier and the government to honour the memory of these lost children.”
During her election campaign in 2018 Ms Berejiklian committed her Government to introducing laws which would recognise the death of an unborn child killed during a criminal act.
“I gave a commitment to my colleagues that, based on the advice I have sought, the Government will introduce new laws to address this issue in 2019,” Ms Berejiklian said in 2018.
Bethany Marsh, a representative of the pro-life advocacy group LifeChoice Australia said they were heavily disappointed, but not surprised by Ms. Berejiklian.
“Ms. Berejiklian’s distortion of the original ‘Zoe’s Law’ bill is yet another example of her obvious and complete disregard for human life,” said Ms. Marsh. “That an unborn child would be considered nothing more than an extension of the mother, like an arm or a leg, is outrageous.
“We strongly believe in the uniqueness of every life, from conception until natural death, and will do all that we can to ensure that the rights of an unborn child are acknowledged.”
The proposed law will “provide a specific circumstance of aggravation for offences committed against a pregnant woman, which causes the loss of an unborn child,” and increase the minimum sentence by an additional three years, “specifically recognizing the pregnancy loss.”
However on Tuesday Ms Berejiklian introduced new laws to the Liberal party room, admitting that the proposed laws were not as strong as some members had hoped.
In addition to the increase in minimum sentencing the proposed reforms would expand the eligibility for Victim Impact Statements to immediate family members of the pregnant woman, inclusion of the unborn child’s name on indictments, and coverage of funeral expenses for the unborn child.
The current draft legislation differs significantly from the previously proposed “Zoe’s Law” put forward by Reverend Fred Nile MLC. Zoe’s law, which received widespread attention at the time, came in response to the death of Zoe Donegan, an unborn child killed eight weeks before her due date of birth after her mother Brodie was hit by a van in 2009.