Dustin Siggins

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17-year-old whose cocaine use allegedly killed her unborn baby charged with fetal homicide

Dustin Siggins
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BATON ROUGE, LA, November 15, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A 17-year old pregnant mother has been charged with second-degree feticide after police say her cocaine use led to the death of her unborn child.

According to police the girl, Princess Beachem, was brought to a Baton Rouge-area hospital, where a doctor was unable to detect her baby’s heartbeat. She was given an emergency cesarean section, but the baby, seven months into gestation, was stillborn.

An autopsy showed the baby had been developing normally but had traces of cocaine in the system.

Beacham said she snorted cocaine after her boyfriend broke up with her several days prior to the baby’s death. Police allege the cocaine caused the death of the unborn baby and have issued a warrant for her arrest under on a case of second-degree feticide.

Beacham is being charged because her actions ended the unborn baby’s life too late in the pregnancy. In Louisiana, abortion is illegal after 20 weeks post-fertilization, except in cases related to the life and physical health of the mother.

Baton Rouge police spokesperson Corporal JLean McKneely told LifeSiteNews.com that since Beacham “was past the 20-week legal time period to terminate a pregnancy under Louisiana law, she was charged for the death of her child.”

Louisiana is one of at least 38 states with fetal homicide laws, and one of 23 with such laws applying to the earliest stage of pregnancy, according to the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL).

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Feticide is defined as “the killing of an unborn child by the act, procurement, or culpable omission of a person other than the mother of the unborn child.” It specifically excludes abortion.

Second-degree fetal homicide is defined as taking place when the charge would normally be first-degree feticide, except that “the offense is committed in sudden passion or heat of blood immediately caused by provocation of the mother of the unborn child sufficient to deprive an average person of his self-control and cool reflection.”

Fetal homicide laws in Louisiana and other states, as well as the federal “Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004,” typically include language that prevents prosecution of mothers who cause the death of their unborn children. This is due to legislative lobbying efforts of pro-abortion organizations such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood to prevent abortion from being criminalized.

This issue briefly drew national attention during the 2003-2004 prosecution of Scott Peterson over the murder of his wife Laci, who died while pregnant. Peterson was convicted of the first-degree murder of Laci and the second-degree murder of their unborn child. The then-President of the National Organization of Women asked the prosecution to only charge him with one murder, saying the double charge undermined abortion’s legality.

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