Judge in late abortion case linked to conservative Christian charity(195 Posts)
" A judge who criticised UK abortion policies while sentencing a woman to eight years in prison for performing her own abortion at a late stage in her pregnancy is one of at least five members of the judiciary with links to a Christian charity which has campaigned for more conservative abortion laws."
Thought this deserved a thread of its own.
The general view on MN seems to be that this woman deserved a lot more than 8 years in prison.(I'm not sure I agree with this view) The "late stage" in pregnancy was 39 weeks, and the woman induced her labor. Whether the baby died before during or after birth is not known, as the woman will not say where the baby is.
If the woman was before a court of a crime then it shouldn't make any difference what the believes of the jury are...she is either guilty or not guilty in British law. If she had terminated the pregnancy at 8 weeks by drinking a bottle of gin, throwing herself down the stairs and having a hot bath, then been sentenced to eight years in prison, yes, it would be extremely concerning. But in this country there should be no need to do that because of our abortion laws which, although I think need a bit of tweaking due to modern medicine, really are quite reasonable.
It suggests the judge - like the vocal minority on MN and other social media - has an axe to grind.
What the woman did was terrible. She admitted her guilt. Not sure how a long custodial sentence will help her. It certainly won't deter anyone from doing similar in utter desperation.
The vocal minority? So most people think terminating a pregnancy days away from birth can be justified? . Most people on mumsnet usually seem to think women should have the right to terminate a pregnancy for any reason, what ever the gestation of the pregnancy.
Whatever their religious or other beliefs, judges are supposed to treat people equally. That means sentencing should be fair. Not extra-harsh because the judge happens to be anti-abortion.
I hope she appeals against the sentence. Whatever you think of her actions, she is entitled to a fair, impartial sentence.
She didn't deserve 8 years IMO. If her unborn child had disabilites she could have legally obtained an abortion. Current abortion laws are disablist.
Interesting. Maybe that's why he was so lenient, to try to prove he was unbiased. Unfortunately it was a very bad judgement.
To get a late abortion in the UK is pretty tough. Maybe the current law is disablist in banning abortions at 38 weeks of healthy babies, but the judge's position is to punish according to the law of the land. The jury's role was to decide whether the woman was innocent or guilty.
Personally I think the judge's sentence was about right. The fact that a couple of disabled babies are murdered at 38 weeks doesn't make it right.
8 years was far too long, what good will a prison sentence do? The whole thing is awful but to find out he was sentencing her explains it (a bit).
A prison sentence will prevent her getting pregnant again.
If she killed the baby soon after birth (which I think is likely) would that deserve an 8 year sentence?
The maximum sentence for this offence is life imprisonment.
If she thinks that it is unfair she can appeal.
OP how do you know that the judge in this case is linked to a christian charity that campaigns for more conservative views on abortion - has this come from a reliable source. I am assuming this woman will via her lawyer appeal against this sentence which to my mind is far too high a tariff.
Nana, read the link I posted below.
Almandine, she was not charged with killing, she was not convicted of killing, so that has no bearing on the sentence she received for the crime she did admit.
Mellen, the maximum sentence for the MPs and Lords who fiddled their expenses was decades in prison, but they only served a few months. It is very rare for someone to receive the maximum sentence laid down for an offence.
I'm aware of that, just trying to set the sentence that she did receive into context.
There isn't much context though, it's such a rare case. When was the last prosecution with this charge? More than 50 years ago, at least, and very possibly rather more.
AKissIsNotAContract so true
really? That is surprising. What did the 2009 person get?
Oh hang on, are you talking about a case where someone else, not the pregnant woman, was charged? Hardly comparable. I'm talking about the last time a woman was charged with this crime in relation to her own pregnancy.
Its the same law, so comparable to an extent
The BMJ - who ought to know - says the judge 'had no similar precedents to guide him in sentencing'. He was free to be as severe or as lenient as he chose, it would appear.
No, the facts of the cases are very different. Attempting to abort someone else's baby is not the same thing at all!
It is the same law. That is a point of similarity is it not?
I think 8 years is about right. Is it only considered harsh because the mother did it herself? If it were someone else, would the consensus be that the sentencing was fair? Pro choice views shouldn't cloud the reality of what took place, just as people believe that pro life views shouldn't affect the sentencing. The fact that the mother won't say where the babies is buried speaks volumes to me.
Sorry *baby is, not babies
According to the following in 2007 Maisha Mohammed received a 12 month suspended sentence in a similar situation.
I wouldn't be a judge because I profoundly disagree with UK law in many areas, and I would not enforce such law no matter what- any more than I would not join a Saudi unit to enforce their laws on "promoting virtue and preventing vice". My conscience comes first, even if an authoritarian gov were in power and able and willing to put me to death for dissenting. For me, conscience over citizenship every ti,=me
Lynette- the jury's role is NOT to just apply the law of the land. Judges are required to do so: juries have a right to find the defendant not guilty NO MATTER WHAT if they believe a particular circumstance does not deserve criminal conviction, or if they find the law unjust in itself. This has helped to turn around injustice when Parliament has been slow ito in the past. I can certainly think of at least a dozen cases where I'd do that.
Personally at 39 weeks the baby had every chance of survival. Therefore I think it's murder and a mandatory life sentence should have been given.
I am pro choice when a foetus has no chance of survival.
Extrospektiv, I agree with you about being a judge.
SIL is a barrister and I just don't get how she can defend men accused of rape. I know innocent until proven guilty and all that, but I couldn't do it.
"I am pro choice when a foetus has no chance of survival." Pretty much sums up how I feel.
I don't think the sentence was overly harsh so it doesn't concern me that the judge holds these views tbh.
Almondine if she is and you feel like that then why has she not explained to you? We need defence lawyers very much so that justice is seen to be done. A trial MUST be balanced legally. Speak to her. She does just as valid a job as the prosecution. And don't forget, some people are not guilty.
If the facts I read about this case, that she was worried the child was her lovers and not her husbands, are correct then eight years is too short. This does not appear to me to be the act of a desperate woman who can't cope - but similar to the cheating men who try to cover their tracks any which way and don't care who gets hurt.
She also had plenty opportunity to secure a legal abortion, we live in a very liberal country.
And refusing to admit what has happened to the baby's body so it can be buried properly just seals it for me. Sorry.
I agree with the pp about keeping her in prison so she cannot get pregnant again at least. And I promise I am usually very liberal in my thinking. I can't get over this.
So what would the sentence have been if she had been convicted of murdering a baby?
Surely more than 8 years?
It seems appropriate to give a harsh sentence for the abortion given that the alternative is murder.
Judge says 15 years would have been the sentence:
She will serve an actual 4 years in prison.
I think he was pretty lenient given the chance it was premeditated infanticide more likely than not.
Which charity is he linked to? Ive got a fair few conservative evangelical friends and acquaintances and would be interested to know who he is supporting?
She was not charged, sentenced or convicted of murdering her baby and so this concept of he "murdering her child" is irrelevant to her sentencing.
She aborted a baby, something that under different circumstances (gestation/health) is quite legal and so 8 years seems extraordinarily long, not to mention pointless, even before one compares it to sentences for other crimes: you'd get less for most manslaughter's or rapes.
She clearly had a very troubled maternal history and I'm quite sure she needs some sort of help- what she did was hideous but i struggle to see what is achieved by a long prison sentence.
I have no doubt the sentence willbe reduced on appeal.
If she'd have been judged mentally incapable of making a sound decision regarding this, she would have been tried under those circumstances. Especially in such a high profile case I'm sure she was professionally evaluated. It's very hard to take, but sometimes evil happens.
Not really understanding why the term 'aborted' is used when the baby was full term. Seems to me that labour was 'induced', and then somehow she let the baby die. We don't exactly how she did this. Historically when mothers have ever done this there is an assumption that they are stressed and not coping.
8 years seems extreme to me.
I think the sentence may be a reflection of the judges beliefs on abortion.
That fact that she has concealed the baby's body makes you wonder what she did to that poor baby. We cannot jail a mother on the basis of conjecture.
The baby was not induced on impluse. It takes a fair amount of pre mediation to find and order drugs on the internet.
We have no idea what happened and the mother has refused to cooperate.
How would you feel if the mother had strangled the baby on delivery. The drug she took does not usually kill the foetus.
Its unlikely that she will serve 8 years. If she behaves herself she will be out after 4 years.
We don't really know what happened do we, because she has refused to give an explanation. We don't even know for sure that the baby died, but she hasn't been willing to say what actually happened.
I think the sentence needed to be longer, she got off lightly!
The judge being a christian has no reflection on the case as the woman illegally terminated a fully grown fuetus not a 12 week pregnancy!!
She also buried the babys body, so only she knows what really happened and im guessing it wasn't good.
What she did was evil, and the term 'abortion' shouldn't even come into it, it was induced murder
The sentence was within guidelines (in so far as the maximum sentence is life) and the duration of gestation before the act must be a factor as the baby in this case was at term.
Whether she murdered the baby we will never know. She has certain obstructed the course of justice by refusing to reveal the whereabouts of the poor baby's body. Obstructing the course of justice is a jailable offense as well.
If she showed any remorse for what she had done then she would cooperate and tell the police where the baby's body is.
I feel we should respect the judge's decision as he is in pocession of all the facts. It is unfair to say that his views aren't valid just because he is a christian.
Plenty of non christians share his view that late term abortions are evil.
Almandine I really don't think most people on MN think a woman should have a right to terminate a pregnancy at any gestation. When the subject comes up on here I think the majority think the current limit is about right.
Yes I think the sentence is as much about her obstructing the course of justice.
Never heard of a mother getting a jail sentence for letting her baby die after it's birth or induced birth
It's irrelevant to argue about whether she killed the foetus. That has nothing to do with sentencing in this case. As Sarah says, 'she was not charged, sentenced or convicted of murdering her baby and so this concept of he "murdering her child" is irrelevant to her sentencing.' Foetus is the right word as there is no evidence that a baby was born alive. You cannot sentence someone on supposition, only on the facts, the law and the sentencing guidelines.
What we do know is that the judge ignored a previous relevant case, that he is a member of an organisation that is anti-abortion, that he criticized the legal provision of abortion in his remarks, and that he made up the sentence - having no regard to previous sentences for similar crimes. Clearly he tried, wrongly and illegally, to expand the reach of the law by sentencing her for the death of a live baby, something which is neither proven nor relevant given that is not the crime that she was charged with.
I hope she appeals and I hope the Attorney General makes it clear that judges' personal views on perfectly legal acts - he criticized the practice of legal abortion - have no place in sentencing.
But she was not charged with obstructing justice, so that is irrelevant. He had no power to sentence her for obstructing justice. I don't think it applies anyway, as there is no legal duty for an accused person to assist the prosecution by providing evidence against him or herself.
Yes, I can't help but think the judge was personally really pissed off with this woman - and hence the tougher than normal sentence.
I also hope she appeals.
Agree with everything edam has so eloquently stated.
Just because she was prosecuted does not mean she is mentally well - the threshold for insanity pleas is extremely high: basically (and of course i paraphrase) she would have had to have not known what she was doing or if she did not known it was wrong.
There are plenty of individuals who know what they do is wrong (and are not therefore criminally insane) but quite clearly have severe mental health issues.
But its been stated she was not mentally ill. It was pre-meditated as she ordered the drugs and searched methods on how to induce birth and then waited until her husband was away until she went through with the procedure.
Has no one actually thought about the baby's rights to life or just hers?
After all he was a full-term human being with real feelings
Completely agree with edam.
pumpkin, you've missed the point. She wasn't charged with killing a live baby. So that's irrelevant to the sentence. Whatever you, or any of us, suspect or feel isn't relevant. Everyone knows this case is horrifying, what we are discussing is the sentence and the law.
This case is horrifying. The judge has given a sentence that is in accordance with the law. Unlike us he is trained and in pocession of the facts.
The law of the land makes DIY late term abortions legal. She was cold and caluclating how she ended her pregnancy. It is not the behaviour of a mentally ill person. The judge is trained in the law and has her sentenced accordingly.
That's the point really, he hasn't. He's ignored the only comparable case - openly said so in court - and made his anti-abortion views very clear. Which were entirely irrelevant and should never have come into it.
It is difficult to see why she would have done this unless she had severe mental health issues, though she is not criminally insane.
Having an abortion at an earlier stage or giving the baby up for adoption would have been much more in her own interest than the course of action she chose.
I'm sorry but in this 'comparable case' the big difference is the woman was proven to have mental health issues and co-operated with police fully. She was desperate and full of remorse.
In his case she has been deliberately obstructive by refusing to disclose the whereabouts of the body and failed to show remorse. The sentencing reflects that.
These cases are as comparable as two child murders where one is a mother who does it so she can go off with her new man and one where a mother does it in the grips of despression and despair. The sentencing, quite rightly, would be vastly difference.
Assessing remorse is always subjective. Traumatised people don't always behave in textbook fashion.
Where was it said that she wasn't mentally ill?
It is difficult to see why she would have done this unless she had severe mental health issues
Not to me its not sadly, although I do realise some people struggle to understand why a Mother would potentially harm her own child without something being wrong mentally with them. Some people are just bad and will go to any lengths to fulfil their own needs.
However I do think the judge should not have made remarks about his own views on legal abortion (which this wasnt) in his speech.
Yes, he should have. Judges have the right to make such remarks, no matter what edam and perception and the other semi-defenders think, provided they are not sentencing for personal biased reasons and/or outside of the legal guidelines. THE JUDGE IN THIS CASE DID NEITHER so do not criticise him.
Thanks for the link relating to her mental health.
I am however now more having read the sentencing remarks in full and the judges own opinions. Disgraceful
extrospectiv there are no guidelines for this sort of case - It is virtually unique.
And a judge who clearly shows bias will quickly find himself in the Court of Appeal. And rightly so
Legally it can only be classed as infanticide if they could prove the child was born alive and died following 1st independent breath. As they could not prove it either way the lesser charge applies.
There is a parallel to the Baby P case where 3 adults are in the house with a severely abused toddler who dies and police cannot prove who killed the child. One or more of them COULD have killed the child in a way meeting the legal definition of murder, but if they cannot prove this, they must charge "causing or allowing the death of a child" which is a lesser but still very serious offence.
The Abortion Act states that for an abortion to be legal two registered medical practitioners must be of the opinion that:
(a) that the pregnancy has not exceeded its twenty-fourth week and that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated, of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family; or
(b)that the termination is necessary to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman; or
(c)that the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman, greater than if the pregnancy were terminated; or
(d)that there is a substantial risk that if the child were born it would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
(2)In determining whether the continuance of a pregnancy would involve such risk of injury to health as is mentioned in paragraph (a) [F2or (b)] of subsection (1) of this section, account may be taken of the pregnant womans actual or reasonably foreseeable environment.
Those are the only grounds.
So when the judge states:
"whatever view one takes of its provisions which are, wrongly, liberally construed in practice so as to make abortion available essentially on demand prior to 24 weeks with the approval of registered medical practitioners"
He is entirely correct.
The law is the will of Parliament, and it clearly does not provide for abortion on demand. His job as a judge is to apply the law according to the intent of Parliament, not to extend it beyond that, only to interpret it where ambiguous.
Has no one read Camus' The Outsider? I always think of it when cases like this come up.
animation you hope she appeals?!?!? words fail me
animation I hope she gets double figures if she appeals
Extro the sentence was double figures, it was 12 years with one third off for a guilty plea.
I hope she appeals. We can't have judges riding roughshod over the law and imposing their personal prejudices on sentencing. We can't let people who should be banged up go free because the judge sympathises with them, not more than we can let people go free when they should be banged up.
Skippy, he is not correct. You may agree with him, that doesn't make him right. He had no place criticizing the law on abortion - legal abortion has nothing to do with this case. This is a case where a woman pleaded guilty to taking a drug designed to induce labour. It was not a legal abortion. The judge's anti-abortion opinions should have no bearing on it and have no place in a courtroom.
Skippy, pay no attention to Edam. She is a pro-abort ideologue and she is riding roughshod over the law herself. The judge's comments about "abortion on demand" reflected the very law Parliament passed. It is scum like Bpas and Stopes who kill vast numbers of foetuses ILLEGALLY by twisting the Act to make it sound like woman's personal WHIMS are sufficient for a "ground C" termination, which well over 90% of all TOPs are. The judge interprets ground C the correct way, the way the law says, not the "pro-choice" misinterpretation.
Oh, and another thing. The sentencing, for the last time, WAS NOT based on the imposition of PERSONAL PREJUDICE. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it prejudiced.
Yes I hope she appeals about the sentencing. I have never heard of a mother going to jail for inducing labour and letting the baby die - and so 8 years in jail is unprecidented as far as I'm aware.
Extro, practice within the UK is that if a woman dies not want to be pregnant, that is sufficient grounds to consider that continuing the pregnancy would cause danger to her mental and physical health. Please do not refer to BPAS and Marie Stopes as "scum" for following this practice.
"The sentencing, for the last time, WAS NOT based on the imposition of PERSONAL PREJUDICE. Just because you don't like it doesn't make it prejudiced"
Extrospektiv - you seem very sure about that.
Edam, I am not sure on what legal grounds she would appeal. She pleaded guilty to a crime that carried a maximum sentence of life. My understanding is that it is a crime to take such a substance at any point in pregnancy, so theoretically a 15 year old taking something at 8 weeks would be considered under the same crime. Therefore I assume that, as the pregnancy moves towards term, the severity of the sentence would increase towards the maximum, except for mitigating factors.
I think grounds for appeal might be that another judge could have viewed the psychiatric report differently or would have asked for a psychologist's report also (indeed I wish that, given her history, all avenues regarding mental health had been explored).
Really Edam? You don't think there is abortion on demand? Or you think that the Abortion Act provides for it?
Toaster I know exactly what you mean.
What evidence do you have for stating that 90% of terminations are under ground C?
Extro, people are allowed to disagree with you, you know. When you have to resort to extremist inflammatory language and personal attacks, you are conceding that you are on the losing side of an argument.
I am indeed pro-choice. You seem to have difficulty grasping the difference between pro-choice - the belief that women have a fundamental right to control their own bodies - and pro-abortion. I'd rather no-one ever needed an abortion, tbh. But we live in an imperfect world, where things like rape exist, and horrible medical conditions that mean unborn babies would suffer horribly and die after birth. Abortion has always existed, btw, it just used to be illegal (even permitted by the Catholic Church until relatively recently in their long history, up to the point of 'quickening').
But whatever my personal views on abortion, or yours, or that of the judge, or the prosecuting or defence lawyers, justice is about facts and the impartial application of the law. It seems entirely possible the accused in this case was not treated fairly but suffered from the personal bias of the judge. That is not on in a civilised country that takes the rule of law seriously.
As a believer in God, my beliefs of who is scum have nothing to do with particular countries, either. So whether people do things "in the UK" makes no difference to me. And NO-ONE on this forum can change my mind.
the woman in question had hidden her last pregnancy until the babies (live) birth, had had a child adopted and had several abortions.
this woman could not be arsed to it again and instead killed her full term baby.
that is against the law and she was punished. end of story. who gives an actual fuck what hte personal opinion of the judge was? he sentenced her according to the law as it stands.
she deserves every single minute of that sentence.
And yes, Bpas and Marie Stopes are scum. They are absolute scum. I know quite fucking well that what they do is "current practice in the UK". That practice is pure evil because it's based on killing a pre-born child just because the woman doesn't WANT to be pregnant.
They provide a service that you dont agree with - doesnt make then scum. Legal abortion is not evil. At the end of the day its a womans right to choose, and thankfully the law recognises that rather than giving in to anti-abortion extremists.
What evidence do you have for stating that 90% of terminations are under ground C?
It's not very Christian to go around calling people scum. Maybe you should spend a little more energy reading the Gospels and a little less worrying about what everyone else is up to. Have you read the parable about the mote in the eye?
In case you don't have a Bible handy:
Matthew 7:3-5 (King James Bible)
3 And why behold the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how will thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
I am very much pro-choice.
But that doesn't mean this decision is incorrect. Feel like this is becoming very black or white.
I imagine that there are some humanist judges who disagree with abortion at term of a healthy baby. Lets keep religion out of the law courts.
As the law stands it is illegal to have an abortion unless 2 doctors see it as a danger to either the mother's health or the baby is severely disabled. Bpas and Marie Stopes offer a service that legal under British law. Personally I think abortion law in the Uk has a good balance between the needs of the mother and the baby's right to life. If you are unhappy with abortion law in the UK then right to your MP or choice a peaceful campain group.
The woman broke UK law by doing a DIY abortion at term. People who break the law need to be punished otherwise they will break the law again. People are sent to jail to act as a deterent as well as to punish the offender.
In someways it would be more constructive to reduce this woman's sentence if she agreed to be sterilised. However I can't see any ethics commitee agreeing that.
I will not get involved with MPs because MPs do not decide whether abortion is right or wrong. God does. Fuck Parliament. Their rules have NOTHING to do with my beliefs on moral issues and never will do.
And ALL abortion except to save the life of the mother is evil. Legal abortion is evil. Illegal abortion is evil. The morality of abortion is separate from what an earthly government decides on it.
If Parliament banned abortions to save the life of the mother, I would support breaking the law, and breaking the law would be the right thing to do. The Scriptures teach that when God and man are in opposition, one obeys GOD. If man has a problem with that they can throw me in prison. Even threatening execution won't make me comply.
As the Manhattan Declaration says- We are not opposed to obeying law or submitting to government per se. We willingly give to Caesar what is Caesar's. But we will NEVER, even under the penalty of death, give to Caesar what is GOD's. And moral judgments, life and the family for example belong to God not Caesar.
The reason I said fuck you Parliament is because the world has sunken into such deep evil now that all governments are basically corrupt.
I am in total agreement with Edam whose posts I find are informative, accurate and measured. I especially agree with her comments to Extro that if you have to resort to inflammatory language and personal attacks you are conceeding that you are on the losing side of an argument.
There are clearly and unsurprisingly many views on this issue. I am very pro-choice as far as abortion is concerned and have long been dismayed by some of the protests outside abortion clinics by anti-abortionists with sensational pictures and "facts" about pain to the foetus and other matters that are without foundation. As Edam says it matters not what any of our views are, justice is about the impartial application of the law and this does not seem to have been the case, and that there is reason to believe that this woman could have suffered from the Judge's personal views on the matter which totally goes against the impartialapplication of the law.
I have not not yet read the entire post of the report of this case provided by Edam, but the fact that it is a Guardian report gives me reason to think that the report is likely to be accurate and valid and devoid of the sensationalism of the red tops.
I sincerely hope that this woman appeals and that appeal is successful. Who are we to judge what compelled this woman to take the action that she did when we know absolutely nothing of her state of mind or the degree of emotional distress that she must have suffered. I have read somewhere that she is not mentally ill, but not all psychological distress is diagnosed as mental illness, and only the woman herself knows what her emotions were and her motives for taking the course of action that she did.
I notice you've ignored Matthew 7:3-5. Not really that interested in the Bible, are you, for someone who claims to be motivated by religion...
Thanks Nananina - I'm sure we've been on entirely opposite sides of heated debates in the past but I'm equally sure we've managed to argue our points with civility and reason.
I am also pro choice up to the point when the baby can survive, and I believe that the judgement may have been clouded by the judges personal beliefs and in any case where judgement is clouded by religious beliefs they should be re tried in the eyes of the law not the eyes of god.
She HAS been tried in the eyes of the law. She has been punished by the law. 8 years' imprisonment is not God's sentence. It is a sentence under the Offences against the Person Act for a serious violation.
She will be tried in the eyes of God after she dies, like all of us will.
The fact that I hate certain parts of UK law and cultural norms (but will not move, in case anyone suggests that, as the reasons to stay here outweigh any reasons to move to a more moral society) is irrelevant. The judge obviously does not hate our legal system as much as I do, as he has worked within it for a long time; he would not have kept his job as a judge without doing so. Whatever my personal feelings I can still tell that such law has been followed in the case at issue. So Catt has zero grounds of appeal.
You cannot guarentee his judgement was not clouded and if they can't find the body how can they sentence fairly when they don't know if the baby died before birth or after, surely sentencing would be different if she has infact killed the baby shortly after birth wich is highly possible at 39 weeks.
Because in the eyes of the law as I have previously explained on this thread, a judge cannot sentence for the more serious of two crimes if they can only prove the less serious one. There is no proof that infanticide or murder* has been committed so she is being charged with what can be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Any personal belief, atheists' ones included, could cloud a judge's judgement. We would have to have robots determine sentences to avoid this. I trust that the judge has done his job and not sentenced due to prejudice, as there is not enough reason for me to believe he is guilty of this.
*by God's definition she is a murderer, as are all Bpas and MSI doctors, but this is not relevant to sentencing- I just include it to make it clear that the government will not control my thinking.
I am totally disgusted by those that are actually defending this woman's 'right' to murder her viable baby. You are more angry at the notion that the judge's sentence was clouded by his beliefs that you fail to realise that your own staunch pro choice beliefs cloud your own eyes, preventing you from admitting that what this woman did was heinous. You can bet that poor baby felt pain when it was killed so mercilessly by the very mother whose smell, voice and heartbeat had moments before sustained it. She premeditated it's murder and she refuses to say where it is buried. That isn't pro choice. It's murder plain and simple.
The CPS presumably felt that they didnt have enough evidence to prove any charges beyond what she was tried for. She wasnt charged with murder, or infanticide (as that is defined as 'suffering from an imbalance of mind due to the effects of childbirth or lactation- would that technically apply of the action was planned prior to either?).
Well said runningforme! The judge didn't allow his beliefs to cloud his judgment as i think 8 years based on the evidence and law sounds about right.
Imo 8 years is not enough for what she did. This was not ABORTION, it was worse This was a newborn, fullterm, probable healthy baby boy and even if she didn't kill him the drugs she took may have led to his death.
The woman is a disgrace, disgarding all her babies when she feels like it.
She needs to be sterilised
Look, there is no god and it's totally stupid to start throwing 'in the eyes of god. Statements around when dealing with the law. 8 years seems a lot to me (though the link says 12?) as this woman seems to have some major issues which the judge didn't explore. I hope she gets whatever help she needs and I hope her two children are ok.
Extrospective, your behaviour is the most UnChristian I've seen on this thread.
If you believe in judgement day then I'd work very hard on yourself and your behaviour.
Because how you are behaving is the opposite of what Jesus preached.
Edam, can I give MN a much easier version of
Matthew 7:3-5 (TNIV)
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone elses eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say, Let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other persons eye
It is for this very reason I think it's a great thing that this judge tries to live and work by his faith.
If he wants to Judge by Christian values (that's me putting words in his mouth as the Guardian article just tells us he is part of the group where one person has said this) then he will be more likely to be more understanding that we all fail and have to look at our own failings everyday and only judge when we have a right to (which he has been given the huge task of by the government)
The law may say that it makes no difference how many weeks gestation a woman is when she has an illegal abortion, but we on MN know full well that there is a difference between a foetus that dies at 8 weeks and one that is 38 weeks. When you listen to the stories mothers tell of giving birth to their still born babies it is different to those who have a MC in the first trimester.
Both are distressing and horrible, But there is a difference
Duelling the sentence was 12 years but reduced by one third to 8 for a guilty plea.
Hope - thanks; I'm a writer so I do love the King James Bible but indeed it may be easier for people to get the language of later versions.
Trying to live as a Christian may be a great thing in theory but sadly many Christians don't live up to the teachings of Jesus. I'm an agnostic myself but brought up CofE and went to church schools (and took religious studies O-level which was essentially Eng Lit on the Gospels so I analyzed them in some detail, and have maintained an interest in what, as far as we know given they were written by other people, Jesus actually said and did).
Look at all those Christians who get so worked up by Leviticus, but cheerfully ignore all the other prohibitions in the Old Testament, as well as what Christ said about he'd come with a new message and we shouldn't live by the Old Testament. They ignore all the stuff about the Pharisees too and appear to model themselves on people Christ criticized.
Funny thing that religious Jews, who do try to live by the Old Testament, are generally far less bossy about other (non-Jewish) people than some Christians. Maybe that's to do with being the Chosen Ones and not worrying about the un-Chosen, I dunno. Will have to ask my Jewish friends.
Religion aside, what this woman did was horrific. Anyone should see that
Btw, human beings are fallible and all that, so it's unfair to expect Christians to be perfect. Would just be nice if the more vehement ones tried to pay attention to what Jesus actually said rather than trying to use their beliefs to oppress other people.
No-one's doubting that, pumpkin. What we are debating is whether the sentence was just.
To clarify matters here, if Catt has grounds for appeal against the sentence the it lies primarily in Mr Justice Cooke's rejection of the sentence in the Maisha Mohammed case as a sentencing precedent on the grounds he saw the two cases as not being comparable.
On the facts of both cases, this assertion seems rather dubious as these cases appear to differ in only two material respects.
One is that Catt is relatively well educated, while Mohammed was both illiterate and innumerate, however, neither appears to have had a psychiatric disorder at the time of the offence and there is nothing to suggest that Mohammed's lack of basic skills is due to anything other than a lack of basic education - she is a Somali migrant. Indeed, in the Mohammed case, the jury was told that she had already had a previous legal abortion before she underwent the backstreet abortion for which she was convicted and so cannot reasonably be considered to be ignorant of either UK abortion law or the process by which an abortion can be obtained legally. This being the case, one cannot justify the harsher sentence awarded to Catt on this basis, unless one take the view that Mohammed was dealt with altogether too leniently.
The other material difference is the gestational age of the foetus at the point of termination. However, here, if we look at survival rate we find that the difference in neonatal survival rates between a neonate born at 30 weeks gestation (95%+) and one born at full term, which is 39-40 weeks (97-98%), is only a matter of 2-3%. That being the case, its not clear that one can reasonably take the difference in viability as justification for such a wide disparity in sentencing.
If she appeals, Catt might also make something of of Cooke's comments in paragraph 7, where he peremptorily dismisses any need for a report from a psychologist, which suggests that the defence may have asked for a second opinion on Catt's mental state when the court-appointed psychiatrist's report came up negative for any psychiatric disorders. Coupled with the fact that Cooke made his personal biases in regards to abortion, generally, explicit in his remarks, Catt may wish to contest that aspect of his ruling.
AS for Cooke's - and extro's - assertion that abortion law is wrongly construed, this is flat out wrong for reasons I deal with here -
I am concerned and surprised by this sentence. Under the UK laws on infanticide, if this woman had given birth to the baby alive and then killed it at birth, her offence would have been limited to manslaughter and only in very rare cases would she have been imprisoned for longer than 12 months. Most women who commit infanticide are given psychiatric treatment rather than a prison sentence under the sensible assumption that a woman who kills her own child is likely to be suffering extreme emotional or mental disturbance or difficulty.
I am surprised at posters who can so confidently conclude that the woman involved was 'cold and calculating' in her actions. You can carry out a plan while desperate and deeply depressed. Indeed this is what a number of infanticidal women do every year - eg planning to kill themselves and their child together. Often this is an irrational and extreme reaction to dreadful circumstances such as poverty, violence and being in a perceived trap from which there is no way out. You could call that mental illness, or desperation, or insanity caused by desperation.
In the case of this woman we don't know what the circumstances were.
I'm very surprised by the sentencing discrepancy here as compared to infanticide cases and I think that this woman has been sentenced for longer precisely because her baby was unborn at the time. The judge is making a statement about the value of the unborn fetus. Whatever one thinks of that
(I personally believe that the death of a 39 week old fetus is a tragic waste of life, although I am pro-choice) there is no justification for this massive legal discrepancy. I hope that the appeal deals with these issues or the law on late abortion and infanticide is going to be a great big confused mess.
There is a lot that we don't know about this case that may have acted to mitigate the situation precisely because Catt has declined to provide that information, or to utilise those arguments. We don't know why she has done so, but presumably she has her reasons.
Calling a 39 week's gestation baby a 'fetus' makes it more palatable to those who trump the rights of the mother over that of the unborn child. My ds was born at 37 weeks and needed no help or medical care whatsoever. He was most definitely a baby, and my rights were no greater than his.
Running, I make no claims as to whether your baby is/was a baby to you; the fact however is that until a baby is born alive in the UK it is not LEGALLY a bay; it is a fetus. Sorry but feelings do not change the law.
And Running you should be aware that abortion is indeed illegal after 24 weeks, unless for disability and under medical advice. That does not mean however that the law treats all fetuses over 24 weeks in the same way as live-born babies.
I presume pro-life posters on here would also agree with the idea of whacking great sentences for women who commit infanticide. Those women are generally highly disturbed and under intense pressures eg from poverty and violence. In what sense does a long prison sentence help this situation? The woman will not be rehabilitated, simply punished for a vast amount of state money. But the punitive approach seems to be a sort of addiction for many these days.
Personally I am appalled at what this woman did. Particularly if motivated by the fact she was worried about her affair being discovered. I find the topic of abortion very hard and am thankful I've never been in the situation of having to make such a decision.
However, I'm really not sure what this sentence actually achieves? I very much doubt this woman would be in this situation again and it's such a unique crime that I can't see it bring a deterrent. I would rather see a short sentence combined with some sort of supervised community work, such as a volunteer at a care home or charity.
She will be on licence for the last 4 years of the 8, so that should give her a degree of supervision and support.
That's something I suppose but by a short sentence I mean 12 months or less. I do confess though to very limited knowledge of our legal/prison systems. Just trying to apply "SES logic"
There maybe big difference between Maisha Mohammed and Sara Catt's cases that we are not aware of. Maisha Mohammed was young and lack of basic literacy made her more vunerable. Prehaps it could be argued that Maisha Mohammed got off far too lightly.
It would be interesting to see what sentence a British Muslim judge would set. I imagine the penalty for killing a full term fetus in many countries would be far harsher than anything the UK would do.
I might be a liberal lefty but surely she needs help, just as women do who are so disturbed as to kill their babies shortly after birth.
Really, if there was a significant difference that explained the discrepancy in sentencing, the judge would have stated it. He didn't. The only significant difference that is apparent is that this judge is a member of an organisation that is at least linked to anti-abortion campaigns.
What she did was horrific but she should be sentence for the crime of which she was found guilty, and sentenced fairly and dispassionately. That's what we expect judges to do - whether they are Muslim, Christian, atheist or Scientologists.
Thank you for explaining that Unity
Thank you for explaining about infanticide domestic, I didnt know that.
I suspect this lady should have been treated better and I think she probably has mental health issues and was very unlucky to get up before Judge Anti Abortion. If I were her lawyers I would use it on an appeal. However I suspect there are very few cases so we will have no comparators.
You used to get a lower sentence if you killed your own child up to 12 months of age in Englsh law for I think the right reasons - often women have depression etc.
"Personally I am appalled at what this woman did. Particularly if motivated by the fact she was worried about her affair being discovered"
That in itself - a fear of a 7 year affair being found out is evidence that this woman felt constained (whether real or imagined) and felt unable to act autonomously. A more empowered and confident person would make a decision to be with the partner they wanted to be with. Logic usually dictates that if you're unhappy with your husband you split up.
This woman wasn't right - her thinking was probably disordered and irrational and her emotions highly charged. She didn't warrant such harsh punishment -she needs some compassion and help.
I think what this woman did was appalling and shouldn't that tell us something?
what does it tell us apart from the fact that she did a terrible thing?
I love the fact that everyone is a armchair lawyer about this particular case speculating on the motives of the judge
Isn't it distinctly possible that the judge would have been very measured about the sentencing knowing that his Christian beliefs might be construed as unduly influencing his decision. I dont think that somebody in his position would have blindly cast aside relevant legal procedures to give an extraneous sentence to this woman without having the wit to realise that his actions would win her freedom at the Court of Appeal. I'm not religious myself, but I know of lots of people in RL who manage to seperate their religious beliefs and still retain a professionality when going about their job
I fail to see what benefit sending her to prison will have on anyone. I also hope she appeals. Not because I think she had a right to do what she did, but because the judge seems to be motivated by his 'christian' beliefs and has not sentenced fairly. I don't think it is about being pro or anti-choice, its about reasonable and fair sentencing. No need to single this out to deter others, its such a rare crime, being in prison will not help her or bring back her child, really why does she need to go to prison at all, is she a danger to society?
Sending this woman to prison will prevent her from getting pregnant. She has already given up another baby for adoption at birth and did not learn from the experience. This woman is educated, she has access to contraception and prehaps needs to be forced to have help.
How long she needs to be in prison is something for experts to decide.
We all have "beliefs" that affect the way we live our lives. Being a Christian is as valid as any other belief. I hope this case does go to appeal and the sentence stands.4
She was planning to have the baby, knowing in October/November that she was pregnant, and leave her husband for the lover. But then she fell out with the lover, decided to stay with her husband, and went to get an abortion in March, without his knowledge. This was refused because a hospital scan showed she was beyond 24 weeks, so she bought drugs to induce the baby to born while her husband was away.
At almost full term, she took the drugs and delivered the baby, whereupon she either killed it, left it to die, or it was stillborn, which. because she disposed of it at an unknown location, we will never know.
Did the husband know she was pregnant?
She must have been big at that stage.
Anyway it is a mess - I agree.
Maybe she would consider being steralised as a valid option - rather than going to prison inorder to not get pregnant
The husband was away a lot and she had a history of concealing pregnancies, late abortion requests and secretly carrying a child to term while at university and then having it adopted at birth.
baking - then why did the judge make entirely irrelevant anti-abortion remarks? If he wanted to avoid any suggestion that his personal beliefs resulted in an excessive sentence, he would have kept his gob shut on that topic.
He wouldn't be the first judge to have a sentence reviewed unfavourably. Judges are supposed to be intelligent, yet every now and again you do get some idiot who says an 11yo was a willing participant in rape or some such outrageous nonsense.
I'm assuming there must have been relationship problems with her husband both ways - he must have neither looked at her or touched her if he was unaware of the pregnancy.
This lover and father of the baby - did he reject her? I'm thinking that could be a motive. Maybe she was very angry with him and wanted to punish him, because if she was thinking rationally she could have easily put the child up for adoption - like she'd done before.
Just thinking out aloud...
I can understand the judge being exasperated with her.
"He wouldn't be the first judge to have a sentence reviewed unfavourably. Judges are supposed to be intelligent, yet every now and again you do get some idiot who says an 11yo was a willing participant in rape or some such outrageous nonsense."
edam I don't think you can compare sending Sara Catt to jail for 8 years with saying that an 11 year old is a willing participant in rape.
There are plenty of non christians who would agree with the judge's sentencing. I don't think that the judge's views are that outrageous.
It is possible that Sara Catt might end up with a longer sentence on appeal if the judge is muslim or even a humanist. However she has the right to take that risk.
She may end up with a longer sentence but it should have nothing to do with the judge's belief system, whether that's religious or philosophical or whatever. Even if he's a flipping Jedi Knight. (And it is still almost always a man.)
I didn't mean the rape comments were comparable, just pointing out judges are not always wise or sensible.
domesticgodless she took drugs to induce labour. It is highly probable that the baby was indeed born alive. In that instance we are no longer talking abortion or fetus, but murder and baby. I'd rather save my compassion for that poor child
Me too runningforme, does no one have any compassion for the baby?
This baby would have been full-term when born, its highley probable he was born alive so i reserve my feelings for him too.
He didn't ask to be born, and maybe if the mother had have taken precautions the baby wouldn't have suffered as a result.
Ie: precautions so she didn't become pregnant in the first place, after all this is her 3rd unwanted child!
I'm sorry but these cases are not comparable simply because they are both late abortions. Crimes where the defendant is charged with the same thing can be vastly different.
The circumstances, background and the way they killed their babies was totally different.
Does no one think that if she was truly remorseful and if she hadn't killed the baby after it was born, she'd have revealed where it was? Does the fact she did not merit some form of stronger sentence?
I am sure she does have issues. Don't we all. But does that mean she didn't know what she was doing was wrong? Of course she did. Unless she was a sociopath. In which case there are a lot of murderers out there who should receive a lighter sentence on the same basis.
There seems to be a lot of people who are unwilling to accept that she knew what she was doing. Perhaps it is too shocking to us. But At point to we decide that there is no need for punishment? Most killers clearly have mental health issues.
I'm about as liberal leftie as they come and I think no prison sentence would have been appropriate in the first case. In this cae following extrnsive psychiatric reports thry found she was not mentallyy I'll. I just can't see how people are saying these cases bear any similarity other than on a very simplistic level.
But... she was 38 weeks - why not have the child adopted?? She'd had more than enough time to sort it out earlier if she didnt want the child and it seems to be only her not wanting to deal with people finding out that caused her to do it. No sympathy. The custodial sentence isnt there to help her. Its to punish her for killing her child and deter others. I am definitely pro-choice, but this is clear cut for me. Honestly find it mind blowing that people feel its unjust.
The views of the judge are irrelevant if he passed a fair sentence, and in my view he did.
I suspect a female judge (who has had children) may well be tougher than a male judge. There are plenty of non christians who are anti abortion of a baby at full term.
Sara Catt has the right to appeal, but if this thead is anything to go by her appeal might back fire.
I agree with niggle too and I think that British law on abortions is just right.
"I'm sorry but these cases are not comparable simply because they are both late abortions. Crimes where the defendant is charged with the same thing can be vastly different."
Of course not, but...
Both women had previously carried pregnancies to term.
Both women had previously had a legal abortion.
Both women had become pregnant as a result of an extra-marital affair.
Neither woman appears to have had a recognisable mental health problem at the time of the termination.
Objectively-speaking the difference in viability of the foetuses at the point of termination is relatively small, a matter of 2-3% different in survival rates deapite the 8-9 week difference in gestational age - and in the case of Maisha Mohammed, all that is known is that the foetus was 30 weeks+, the exact gestational age in not entirely certain and could have been 2-3 weeks higher.
There are. in fact, far more points of similarity between these two cases than there are differences. so the question of comparability does not rest solely on their being late abortions.
There are points of similarity yes, and it's just as reasonable to argue that the previous sentence was too light as this one was too harsh.
The previous sentence is not a guideline.
Utterly irrelevant to our legal structure but interesting as the maisha Mohammed case is being compared.
What would the punishment be under Islamic law?
Running I agree that the poor child deserves our compassion. But this woman is clearly highly disturbed. Without help she might do the same or similar again or just end up in the loony bin. That is not a good outcome for anyone.
I agree with others on the thread that the humane thing for her to do would have been to give birth to the child and then give it to social services, however remember we don't have the French system where a mother can renounce parental responsibility at birth. That's obviously what she was afraid of: the birth revealing her affair (although how on earth her husband didn't notice for 38 weeks is quite another point for speculation).
My main concern is the discrepancy now between our laws on infanticide, committed in very similar circumstances to late self- or backstreet- abortion. If this level of harsh sentencing is generalised to desperate women seeking backstreet abortions after the time limit, the law will quite clearly be inhumane.
god pumpkin is this really her 3rd unwanted child?!
the mind boggles eh.
what on earth happened to the other 2? Are they in care?
One was aborted and the other baby was adopted.
domestic she killed the baby because she didn't want to be found out. Yes, those are the actions of a highly disturbed person. But isn't any murder (self defence aside) the act of a disturbed person? Should they all be given lenient sentences? It was not an abortion, late term or otherwise, if she induced labour and then did whatever she did before disposing of the body and refusing to reveal where it is. She deserves every second of her sentence whatever the personal beliefs of the judge
Running you cannot say definitively that she killed the baby as it isn't known if it was still born, killed by her or abandoned by her in some way.
We don't know whether she had help or not. Perhaps she's refusing to give details because she really doesn't know where the baby is and/or she is covering for someone who helped her. Who knows? All speculation.
Maisha Mohammed also didn't give the whereabouts of her baby and is also said not to have shown any remorse. Telegraph report
Thanks Juule, that's very helpful. Wonder why the judge claimed the cases weren't comparable, then... (although it is worrying that Maisha Mohammed was married at the age of 14 and had her first baby aged 16).
Sorry juule you are right, someone else may have taken or killed the baby.
Why are some on here determined to downplay what this woman did? Despite what we do know for sure of her history and her actions in this pregnancy, some are determined to see only what they want to. I've asked before and I'll ask again, if anyone else had brought about the death of a full term baby, would you afford them the same unwavering defense?
Running it is because she was tried, pleaded guilty to and was convicted of the charge of taking a substance to procure a miscarriage. She wasn't tried on any other charge.
Running you ask why so many MNs are determined to downplay what this woman did and that to some extent is true. However on the other side of things there are man MNs who deplore what she did and express themselves quite forcibly, which of course is their right.
I think the debate started about whether the Judge was being impartial in judging this case, when he is a member of a christian anti- abortion group (or something similar) and not about the rights or wrongs of what the woman did. None of us know the first thing about this woman and her motives and yes she does appear to look irresponsible with past abortions/adoptions.
I don't feel in a position to judge one way or the other, and agree that on the face of it, her actions seem horrendous, but 8 years sounds to me to be a very heavy sentence, and I am still left wondering whether this judge was not judging the case impartially because of his own views.
I have just read the link on the Telegraph article on MM. She had a baby aborted at 7.5 months, and was given a 12 month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months. Surely that must give weight to the notion that the Judge in the case under discussion was not acting impartially and was in fact judging the woman because of his own beliefs. This is not the task of Judges and is in my view potentially highly dangerous.
What happens if the mother in this case appeals will be very interesting.
I am still confused as to why it is being referred to as a late abortion. AFAIK she took drugs that induce labour. A baby induced at 38/39 weeks is very common. One wouldn't expect that baby to be still-born or die in childbirth. One would expect that baby to live. The problem is that she wasn't charged with murder/manslaughter, was she? I think there is every possibility that she killed the child but a judge should sentence on the merits of the case, not the possibly of another case. If the body is found, will they retry her?
mrsTerry, they wouldn't 're-try' her exactly, they would try her with a separate crime, if the evidence was there that the baby had not died naturally and had died at her hands rather than someone else's.
I suppose so. I'm just very confused by this case. If my 1 day old child died and I said that had died of natural causes and I had buried it somewhere, wouldn't they charge me with manslaughter? I can't understand why the assumption is, in this case, that this is an 'abortion' when what she did was induce labour. She said the baby was dead but I don't understand why that is the assumption.
It was possibly a pragmatic step, based on what they thought they could realistically get a conviction on.
No they wouldn't MrsT. We used to have Habeas Corpus in the UK meaning you needed a body before you could prosecute for murder. now we dont but it is still very difficult without some other concrete evidence of malicious action on your part (eg knife with your fingerprints and victim's DNA).
I think you could be prosecuted for concealment of a body and maybe non-registration of a death. But no-one could presume your actions killed someone without evidence if you denied it.
That is scary.
At least I now know what habeus corpus is.
Sure but there has to be a provable case for someone to be found guilty so from that angle it isn't scary.
I know but in this case, as far as I know, it is obvious that she ordered the drugs, was pregnant, there is a dead fetus or baby somewhere and presumably she knows where it is. If charged with manslaughter/murder all she would have to do is tell the Police where the body is and surely it would be obvious whether there was a case to answer. I know that is all the wrong way round for the way the legal system works!
Depending on what happened it might be too late now to know for sure.
She did not have an abortion. She induced labour and then committed infanticide She also probably murdered the baby because she refuses to reveal where the body is.
That's not what habeus corpus means. It refers to the accused, not the victim. It means the person who is accused has to be brought before a court - the authorities can't just keep you in prison without due legal process.
But I am right about the law until fairly recently being that there had to be a body, aren't I?
Easy to be confused about it because habeus corpus does refer to bodies - I think the Latin term is pretty much 'produce the body' but it means 'bring the accused out so we can see you haven't made away with him in your deepest, darkest dungeon' or words to that effect...
Not sure about murder prosecutions where there's no body - I think there have been some but it's very difficult to prove, obviously.
Doctrine <shakes fist>
There have been convictions without a body - quite recently there was the Suzanne Pilley case, there have been others too.
Irrelevant to this- Suzanne Pilley was a born person whose killing was clearly murder under English common law, as were all of the few other "no body" murder cases.
Here, without the body, they cannot prove that the child was born and took their first breath independently of the mother before death, and so the actus reus element of the crime of murder cannot be shown beyond reasonable doubt.
I was accused of putting my religious beliefs first earlier on the thread because I said that before God, Catt is a murderer whether or not the baby was born alive- and now I am defending her from the separate claim that she is (or can be proven to the criminal standard to be) a murderer under the law of this country.
Just to show I'm not theocratic or extremist once more.
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