WDW101Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Lesser Included Offense, Medicalization, Rational Agent

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Published on 10 Dec 2015
Maternal neonatalcide: killing child within 24 hours of birth,
infanticide thereafter
Infanticide dierent than manslaughter or murder
Infanticide only sex specic defence in the CC
oIdenties female/mother of the child, having a mental
disturbance from not having recovered from giving birth
Issues: explaining woman's conduct/mental disturbance as a
result of the things that make them female
oSuggests their biology makes them fragile & in case of
infanticide, mentally unstable
o'hand of psychiatry' changed the legal system in a way that
disadvantages women; women have a biological frailty
Sociologically feminist critics:
Agreed with the classical approach to infanticide as it considered
the wider social situation that was going on during the homicide,
rather than just based on the women's mind
Condemned that psychiatric aect on the law/perspective
of infanticide that narrowed it to women's biology to explain
their actions
History of infanticide law
Past in 1922
Prior, issues w/ infanticide was more about the
preservation of morality rather than the act of killing a
Also, death of children a relatively normalized event
so jurors were not as concerned w/ their death than
the moral behaviour of mothers
Thought that types of psychosis arose from dierent things
associated w/ childbirth
Infanticide law introduced in '22:
Prosecutor's idea to bring in homicide
Why not the insanity defence? --> Logic of the law is that
the mental state of women may not be delusional in the
type of way identied by M'Naughten laws; madness may
be less
Responsible, but not fully… mitigation
Psychiatrists nally heard in explaining infanticide
Psychosis generalized, but caused by biological processes
unique to women
Infanticide law passed b/c had been used in U.K. for awhile
Infanticide is a charge --> an oence not a defence (not
oered as a defence)
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Lactation idea not included, reduced from up to 12 months
to newborn
Crown has to prove all elements of the crime; willfully killed
child, balance of mind aected by childbirth
Cannot be charged w/ murder if infanticide proven
Mental illness element included in infanticide oence
& does not t murder oence
Thought there were physical causes that stimulate psychosis
(exhaustion psychosis, etc.) … triggers for it
Some research shows spike in psychosis in 6 months
following birth (though still low)
Not a special kind of mental illness
Infanticide a lesser included oence: Can be charged of
murder & nd infanticide
Makes it easier to nd a conviction of infanticide
Since 1948…
Less stigma assigned to 'illegitimacy' etc; more access to
contraception… so infanticide no longer a moral issue
Has led to less sympathy; social circumstances no longer
the same b/c of the availability to help/access (akin to BWS)
From late 1960's onwards to 80's, 90's: Concern about
prevalence of (physical) child abuse, neglect --> sexual abuse
comes in around 90's
Commissions of inquiry b/c social workers not performing
jobs properly… concerns about not enough being done abuse
child abuse
oWhat comes from this is child abuse homicide
Child subject to physical abuse and eventually dies from
one of the episodes of abuse & upon an autopsy, can see
prior injuries
oMeant to just be used for children repeatedly
abused but began to be used for child deaths upon rst
time abuse
o'Sudden death syndrome' often came to be resultant
of child abuse; parents smothering kids, etc… no physical
abuse found
Eer & L.B cases in Canada
Shows crowns are trying to overcome Infanticide oence
by increasingly charging w/ murder
Whereas SCC iupholds infanticide idea/law
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