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Does Washington have a fetal homicide law?

When a pregnant woman is murdered or killed due to someone else's negligence, the news is quick to make sure everyone knows the woman was pregnant. In some states, this is irrelevant from a legal standpoint because those states do not have fetal homicide laws. In Washington, though, there is such a law.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, fetal homicide laws are very controversial. On the surface, you may wonder why anyone would be mad about prosecuting someone for killing a mother and her unborn child. However, looking deeper, you can see how this may be an issue for pro-choice advocates. They feel fetal homicide laws are a slippery slope towards criminalizing abortion.

People feel that an unborn child who is killed by someone who is causing harm to its mother should be able to get justice. On the other hand, pro-choice advocates are still concerned about assigning life to an unborn child because that is often used in anti-abortion arguments. In some states, this has stopped any fetal homicide laws from being passed. In other states, it has influenced the wording of the laws.

In Washington, specifically, the law states that a person commits manslaughter in the specific case of killing an unborn child through hurting its mother. It also specifies that the death must be intentional and unlawful. This wording, therefore, would eliminate abortion from falling under this definition.

While it is a balancing act to ensure nobody is upset over a fetal homicide law, there is a lot of support for such laws and 38 states have them on the books. This information is for education. It is not legal advice.

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