TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Oct 31 (LSN) – The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a mother who shot her child in her womb could not be prosecuted for killing the fetus. In 1994 Kawana Ashley, then 19, fired a .22 caliber bullet into her abdomen attempting to kill the 25 week old child in her womb. She claimed she could not afford to pay a doctor to kill the baby for her.
The baby, named Britanny, was delivered by emergency Caesarean section with a bullet wound in the wrist. Brittany died 15 days later of complications brought on by the shooting. The mother was originally charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter but a state appellate court threw out the murder charge while upholding the manslaughter charge. The case was appealed by both sides and arguments were heard in November.
The judges claimed their ruling was based on English Common Law which allegedly says that a pregnant woman cannot be held criminally liable for the death of a child in the womb resulting from an attempted abortion, while a third party could be held liable for causing the death of a fetus. In an eerie similarity to a Canadian case the judges proffered, ‘‘As we have said time and time again, the making of social policy is a matter within the purview of the legislature, not this court.’‘