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October 12, 2009 permalink
After a Moores Mills New Brunswick couple lost one child to foster care, mother Sarah Marie Russell gave birth to a baby boy in January 2009. The boy was killed and the body was concealed. The boy's father Rodney Stuart Miller has pleaded guilty to stabbing the boy to death, and the mother is facing manslaughter charges. The loss of the earlier child is conveniently omitted in the press, but easily found on the web.
The ghouls who feed off of dead children for money and power are hard at work in this case. They are proposing a new pregnancy police to intervene in the lives of women.
N.B. studies newborn rights
Published Saturday October 10th, 2009
Province to wade into legal issue of protecting unborn babies from at-risk mothers
FREDERICTON - The provincial government says it will study how far it can legally go if there are fears a pregnant woman might harm her newborn baby after birth.
Social Development Minister Kelly Lamrock said he'll consider a recommendation made by Bernard Richard, New Brunswick's Child and Youth Advocate, calling for legislation to give superior courts any "necessary jurisdiction" they need to protect unborn children from serious harm or death "in appropriate circumstances."
Lamrock responded yesterday to separate sets of recommendations issued by the Child Death Review Committee and the office of the Child and Youth Advocate.
The sole recommendation from the Child Death Review Committee -- to develop an intervention policy when it's believed a pregnant woman might harm a newborn baby -- came after the death of a child in the province within the last year whose parents were known to authorities.
The province is refusing to confirm details of the death.
Richard and his staff drafted their own set of recommendations to correspond, and also get government reaction.
All the recommendations come in the wake of newborn babies who were either abandoned or murdered in New Brunswick -- four known cases since 2007.
Lamrock said the recommendation of drafting legislation to protect unborn children from pregnant mothers who risk doing harm was sensitive, as it includes legal and human rights issues.
"This will not be easy work," he said yesterday. "I haven't agreed to anything yet.
"This is a tough ethical issue. If there's somebody who's claiming to have it all figured out, it isn't me."
Lamrock said the province's attorney general has been asked to assist in going forward and addressing the recommendation.
Just last week, a 27-year-old man from the St. Stephen area, Rodney Miller, plead guilty to the first-degree murder of his newborn son last January. Miller admitted that he stabbed his son in the heart. The baby's 19-year-old mother, Sarah Russell, is facing trial for manslaughter in November.
Lamrock made reference to the testimony of a social worker in that case, saying it was "understandably insufficient" for people to be in a situation where they feel strongly that something negative might happen to newborn and be powerless to do anything.
During Miller's case, a social worker testified that Russell was "getting bigger and bigger," late last summer, but the mother continuously denied she was pregnant.
The social worker notified local hospitals to be on alert for the couple and even sought legal advice on whether the mother could be forced into taking a pregnancy test, as well as being taken into supervised care. The legal advice came back saying that a forced pregnancy test and forced supervised care weren't allowed.
Richard said the social worker's testimony in the trial demonstrated why his office made the recommendation.
"She really felt she was limited in what she could do," he said. "To me, that's not acceptable. If there's a bona fide, clear danger to a baby being born or close to being born at term, then there should be another tool available.
"That's why we've recommended legislation."
The New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women said they have concerns with the recommendation legislation.
"It's problematic, we'd say clearly," said Wendy Johnston, policy and liaison officer for the advisory council. "It could mean that we would be allowing social workers and health-care professionals to become, if you will, a kind of police of pregnancy."
Johnston said the advisory council supported initiatives fostering awareness and education on family planning and contraception, to avoid such tragedies from happening.
Other recommendations made by Richard include working with the Department of Education to set up firm curriculum dealing with family planning issues, contraception, the dangers of a lack of prenatal care and baby abandonment as well as the identification and treatment of pregnancy denial.
Richard said drafting legislation to protect unborn children from pregnant woman who may do harm would be the last step taken to protect a newborn.
There is legal precedent in Canada regarding how much control the state has over a pregnant woman whose actions might pose a risk to a newborn baby.
In 1997, a landmark Supreme Court decision ruled that pregnant women who were addicts couldn't be forced to participate in treatment, regardless of whether their addictions threatened the well-being of a newborn.
The ruling was based on the case of a glue-sniffing pregnant Winnipeg woman who was ordered to undergo treatment by social services. The Supreme Court ruled that no state organization could force pregnant women to undergo treatment because it infringed on their rights.
Richard said the Supreme Court decision left the door open for provinces to create their own legislation if they wanted something "more robust."
"It's a tough issue but it's one that deserves some leadership and I'm hoping that will lead the way."
Lamrock extended an offer to the Progressive Conservatives to also be part of the discussion.
Jack Carr, Tory critic for the Office of the Ombudsman, said he expected to meet with Lamrock before the end of the month to talk about the recommendations. He said he favoured giving more power to social workers in such cases, but said the specifics of how to go about that needed to be considered carefully.
Carr said the Tories' safe-haven legislation would be the first concrete step in addressing the province's recent history of newborn murders and abandonment.
The law would allow desperate parents to take their newborn infant to a hospital ER, or any other designated area, up to 72 hours after a baby is born, without having any fear of prosecution so long as there was no sign of abuse or neglect.
"We expect the government to support us on that at the law amendments committee and we can bring that forward to the legislature when it sits in the upcoming session," he said.
Source: Moncton Times & Transcript