Vague language in a foetal homicide Bill in the US allowed pregnant women to commit murder with impunity.
Senate Bill 66 in the state New Hampshire classifies killing of foetuses at certain stages of development as murder or manslaughter. It does provide protection to women seeking abortions from criminal charges, but here is where the lawmakers who sponsored the bill slipped up.
One section says that "any act committed by the pregnant woman” or a “physician” wouldn’t apply in cases of second-degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, according to the Concord Monitor, a daily newspaper in New Hampshire.
This means that the bill "allows for physician-assisted suicide and allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences," the newspaper quoted Representative JR Hoell as saying. He clarified that this was never the intent of the lawmakers behind the bill, which was passed in the state Senate and the House before anyone noticed the error. The state governor had not yet signed off on this bill, however.
Even if the Bill had been signed into law, it is unlikely to have allowed pregnant women to kill people. A basic legal principle is that laws should not be read in a way that will have "an absurd result," the newspaper said, citing lawyers in the US.
Fortunately, the state House amended the bill on June 22 and corrected its legal language.