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To think unborn babies should be counted as disaster victims?

126 replies

pudding24 · 13/07/2017 21:46

I've just read that an unborn baby (7 months) was killed in the Grenfell fire disaster - thankfully the mother was not.

I've also just read that an unborn baby of 7 months was killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and yet the official death toll is 6, not 7 or '6 + one unborn child'.

AIBU to think that - especially in the third trimester - the likelihood is that that baby would have been born and led a full and wonderful life, and therefore they are just as much a victim and should be included in counts and reports? Sad

OP posts:
OlennasWimple · 14/07/2017 00:06

I find this a very difficult issue.

My DS was born at 36 weeks and didn't need any support other than an extra warm cot, some nasal tube feeding for 24 hours and more frequent observations in SCBU. I'm reasonably confident that if he had only had the extra warm cot he would have been fine.

If I had been in an accident when I was 36 weeks pregnant and lost him, I would absolutely have wanted him to officially "count", whether that was as part of a manslaughter charge against the perpetrator or on official records.

However, I don't share LRD's optimism that it would be possible (at present, at least) to recognise the 36 weeker as a person with rights in some contexts but "only" a foetus with no additional rights in others, especially given how frail our right to safe, legal abortion is at the moment.

Lweji · 14/07/2017 00:07

It either is or it isn't, it can't sometimes depending on lots of other things, can it?

Why not?

Lweji · 14/07/2017 00:09

At the moment it's not a person as such, but it's still protected by law unless there's risk for the mother or major health problems in the foetus.

LRDtheFeministDragon · 14/07/2017 00:10

oleanna - no, I agree with you! I am not optimistic.
But I find it depressing that people seem to imagine that it's not even possible to separate out the different issues. That, to me, seems the sort of worrying blinkered thinking that keeps women's rights from advancing.

I do accept and understand that, in the present climate, the practicalities are very hard. But we came into this thread with a discussion of how this family would feel, and I can't help feeling awful for them.

BoomBoomsCousin · 14/07/2017 00:11

An official death toll isn't a list of everyone who is or can be mourned though LRD. It's just a list of people who have died. And changing the definition will help out some people, but hurt others. There will be the grandparent-to-be who wants to recognize a fetus that the dad knows was going to be aborted a week after the tragedy. Or the people who insist someone they know died in one of the flats but the authorities disagree. Or the woman who was 22 weeks pregnant, or 18, or 12. And then the official list just becomes a list of the losses people feel.

And it's not that those losses are unimportant. People can and should mourn every loss they feel from a disaster. But official counts with black and white definitions help to keep the tragedies of those with less power and social connection on a more even footing with those those who have people to fight their corner.

Lweji · 14/07/2017 00:14

Otoh, official death tolls are important if charges are brought forward for those considered responsible for those deaths.

LRDtheFeministDragon · 14/07/2017 00:19

I know, boom. But this is what makes it so absurd - people on this thread are acting as if putting a foetus onto a list would change abortion law.

It wouldn't.

It would simply give a family who are grieving, some recognition of the loss they've suffered.

I see that you can advance complexities, but surely in this case it is quite simple. A person whose body it is, can say. In this case, the woman who was pregnant is alive and able to say how she feels.

It is only complicated if you think that the grandfather or whoever, has more say that the woman whose body it was.

BoomBoomsCousin · 14/07/2017 00:21

If the official death toll is going to be important in criminal charges then all the more reason that it be very clearly defined.

BoomBoomsCousin · 14/07/2017 00:22

But in many (most?) such cases of death of a fetus the woman wont be there to say how she feels.

LRDtheFeministDragon · 14/07/2017 00:23

But she is there in this case. And, actually, it isn't rare. It's just not talked about much, precisely because we don't register these losses.

That's my point.

LRDtheFeministDragon · 14/07/2017 00:24

It is hugely more common for a woman to have a stillbirth, than for a pregnant woman to die.

The fact this isn't well known is telling.

BoomBoomsCousin · 14/07/2017 00:47

I see that issue - that still birth can be considered massively under valued as a loss by society. I don't agree that the way to tackle that is to add (when there is a voice to speak out for them) fetuses to official death tolls of people.

LRDtheFeministDragon · 14/07/2017 00:59

I don't think it is the way to tackle it.

But I do think we need to aim for a world where it is a possibility.

Anything else is suggesting that we're aiming for a world where women's emotions still don't really matter.

The OP didn't ask for a solution to how we think about stillbirth (still less abortion). She was specific, mentioning this situation and one specific case. And I do think she has a point.

BoomBoomsCousin · 14/07/2017 01:06

I totally agree with recognising the emotions. But changing of definitions of official figures to accommodate the feelings of those we can empathize with has an impact on a lot of people who don't have a voice. I think that can often get lost when we have an emotive exception.

VestalVirgin · 14/07/2017 05:47

A miscarriage caused by violence or disaster should be counted as especially horrific harm done to the pregnant woman.

Listed with other severe injuries, but not as victims.

eurochick · 14/07/2017 06:14

That poor, poor family.

However we can't stat recognising the unborn as people in law. Not just because of abortion but also birth right. Where would we be if the baby had equal rights to the mother? Would each birth need a personal representative for the baby? Could the rep say "the baby is not happy with being pushed, it has equal rights to the mother so do a c section whether the mother consents or not?" How on earth do you balance two equal sets of rights in the delivery room? The possible scenarios are horrific.

exLtEveDallas · 14/07/2017 06:24

grandOlejukeofYork Was correct, my 'knows nothing, feels nothing' comment was about self awareness, not pain.

Whilst I would love to share LRDs optimism regarding personhood, I can't. Not when the world is being turned on its head regarding women's rights every single day. I do believe that counting the unborn would be a mistake and lead to women being charged with murder/manslaughter/endangerment for miscarriages. I don't have the faith in the system that LRD does, not any more.

Cantseethewoods · 14/07/2017 06:31

I think it's fine to acknowledge an unborn child on a memorial plaque etc in that context but they shouldn't be included in the official death toll/stats to be used in a case of corporate manslaughter for exactly the reasons outlined above- i.e. it gives the unborn baby legal personhood in a court of law. You can't have inconsistency across laws. Either an unborn child is always a person ( in all laws) or it isn't.

It's like people who think they could ban private schools without impacting home schooling. I'd love to see them draft that one.

HaudYerWheeshtBawbag · 14/07/2017 06:36

What a horrible thread to post about.

Spikeyball · 14/07/2017 07:23

"No such thing as an 'unborn child'. My son has a stillbirth certificate and is called a child on it. This women's baby is her stillborn child and although he does not have the same status as the 'living' who died, he does have a legal status.

Chestervase1 · 14/07/2017 08:01

LRD sorry I now understand completely. How horrendous for all concerned.

CoteDAzur · 14/07/2017 08:41

"aiming for a world where women's emotions still don't really matter."

Emotions (anyone's, not just women's) don't and should not matter as much as rights.

Lweji · 14/07/2017 09:05

my 'knows nothing, feels nothing' comment was about self awareness

Still wrong. And young babies aren't self aware either.
What does it mean then?
Nothing happens during birth that makes a baby become self aware.
An organism 36 weeks old in uterus and outside has the same self awareness.
You really don't want to go down that road to legally differentiate humans.

meditrina · 14/07/2017 09:14

"It either is or it isn't, it can't sometimes depending on lots of other things, can it?"

This is true in law in England, Wales and NI. There is a (rarely used) offence of Child Destruction which applies to some (not all) circumstances on which a baby in utero, capable of being born alive, is (deliberately) harmed leading to its death before or during birth. See, for example, the Nikita Grendel case.


marymarytoocontrary · 14/07/2017 10:14

But I do think we need to aim for a world where it is a possibility

That's a nice idea, but considering we live in a world where womens rights are being rolled back rather than going forward I think its a bit niave and not very helpful.

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