Unborn Fetus is a Child under Criminal Child Negligence Statute According to Oklahoma Court


On September 10, 2020, the Oklahoma Criminal Appeals Courts issued a ruling in State v Green.

In the case, a Mother gave birth to a stillborn son. The decomposing deceased infant was found inside a wooden box that had been placed in a construction dumpster. The medical examiner determined the infant’s manner of death was homicide from methamphetamine toxicity while in the womb.

The State alleged that the Mother neglected her unborn child by using illegal drugs while the unborn child was under the age of 18.

The Mother argued that the fetus is not defined as a child under the age of 18 because a fetus is not a child until separated from mother at birth.

The Court reviewed another 1994 case that held a viable human fetus is nothing less than human life. The 1994 case determined an unborn fetus that was viable at the time of injury is a ‘human being’ which may be the subject of a homicide if killed.

Applying the same analysis, the Court ruled that “A child several weeks away from birth … is every bit as vulnerable to and in need of protection from neglect and its potential harm as a child one minute after birth.” “Oklahoma law … is to protect children, born and unborn, from potential harm because they cannot protect themselves.”

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