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Judge in late abortion case linked to conservative Christian charity

(195 Posts)
HoleyGhost Fri 21-Sep-12 19:12:16

" 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.

Extrospektiv Tue 25-Sep-12 22:10:09

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.

mellen Tue 25-Sep-12 21:37:20

There have been convictions without a body - quite recently there was the Suzanne Pilley case, there have been others too.

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Tue 25-Sep-12 20:45:30


TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Sep-12 20:34:48


MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Tue 25-Sep-12 20:33:47

Doctrine <shakes fist>

edam Tue 25-Sep-12 19:15:42

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.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Sep-12 18:02:05

But I am right about the law until fairly recently being that there had to be a body, aren't I?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 25-Sep-12 18:01:19

Isn't it? Drat! blush

edam Tue 25-Sep-12 16:55:40

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.

hiddenhome Tue 25-Sep-12 16:45:17

She did not have an abortion. She induced labour and then committed infanticide angry She also probably murdered the baby because she refuses to reveal where the body is.

mellen Tue 25-Sep-12 08:42:09

Depending on what happened it might be too late now to know for sure.

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Mon 24-Sep-12 23:42:46

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!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 24-Sep-12 23:35:11

Sure but there has to be a provable case for someone to be found guilty so from that angle it isn't scary.

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Mon 24-Sep-12 23:33:24

That is scary. At least I now know what habeus corpus is.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 24-Sep-12 23:27:22

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.

mellen Mon 24-Sep-12 21:27:12

It was possibly a pragmatic step, based on what they thought they could realistically get a conviction on.

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Mon 24-Sep-12 20:48:09

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.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 24-Sep-12 20:42:49

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.

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Mon 24-Sep-12 19:58:35

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?

NanaNina Mon 24-Sep-12 19:50:31

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.

NanaNina Mon 24-Sep-12 19:44:35

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.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 24-Sep-12 17:03:18

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.

runningforme Mon 24-Sep-12 16:53:50

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?

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 24-Sep-12 16:16:59

Sorry juule you are right, someone else may have taken or killed the baby.

edam Mon 24-Sep-12 16:12:25

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).

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