Of course, the inconsistencies in American law become glaring in tragedies like this. Say Jessica Bruce had been on her way to abort her baby. Killing her preborn child 15 minutes later under that circumstance would have been perfectly legal, while in this case Bruce faces up to 15 years in prison. Here we see a perfect example why it is only a matter of time before polar opposite laws re: the preborn become impossible to ignore.
According to ABC News, May 13:
A pregnant GA woman, who led police on a high speed chase, will likely be charged in the death of the 24-week-old baby she was carrying.
Police said Jessica Bruce, 21, refused to stop her car Wednesday night when they tried to pull her over for speeding. Bruce fled, struck a car, spun into oncoming traffic and was hit by another car, totaling her vehicle and killing the fetus, authorities said….
Investigators said Bruce, who was clocked by radar driving 85 mph in a 65 mph zone in a suburban neighborhood outside Atlanta, needed to be cut from the wreckage of her car and taken to the hospital. The woman in the 1st car she struck was also taken to the hospital….
Authorities are still awaiting the results of an autopsy performed on the fetus and a toxicology test given to Bruce. They believe Bruce was drunk at the time.
The results of those tests will determine how prosecutors proceed. Based on preliminary information, it is likely Bruce will be charged with “feticide by vehicle,” according to Douglas Co. DA David McDade….
The maximum penalty in GA for vehicular feticide carries a 15-year prison sentence.
McDade said investigators are awaiting the autopsy to determine whether the fetus died as a result of the collision….
“The investigation is ongoing,” McDade said. “An autopsy is being performed on the child and there will almost certainly be criminal responsibility. Under the GA statute it doesn’t matter the age of the child as long as it was alive just prior to the incident.”
24 states recognize the “fetus as a victim” in specially written laws that deal with the death of a fetus in drunk driving cases, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Georgia is exceptional in that it’s the only state with a specific law pertaining to what it calls “feticide by vehicle.”
In several states the age of the fetus at the time of death changes the penalty. 7 states have laws that punish someone deemed responsible for the death of a fetus from the time of its conception.
In other states penalties begin at 7 weeks or 12 weeks.
5 states consider a fetus a person whose death can result in a full-fledged murder charge when in the “quickening state” at 16-18 weeks. Another 3 states charge a suspect with murder only once the fetus is deemed viable, that is at least 28-weeks-old and capable of surviving outside the womb, according to MADD.
Update on the baby’s autopsy, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 13:
Jessica Bruce is in fair condition at Grady Memorial Hospital Thursday. She underwent an emergency C-section Wednesday night after being cut out of her wrecked Pontiac, but the child did not survive, said Douglas Co. Coroner Randy Daniel.
The fetus was transported to the GBI crime lab where an autopsy on Thursday determined the child died from injuries sustained in the crash, Daniel said. The woman was about 6 to 7 months pregnant, he said.
It’s strange that AJC was one of the few news outlets to call the baby a “child” in the headline and in various places throughout the article, which is grammatically acceptable if not politically incorrect, but went on to call the baby a “fetus” after s/he was born, which is absolutely grammatically incorrect.
[HT: reader Jane G.; screen shot via ABC News]