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recent change to the law focussing on Byron's law and the rights of unborn children

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Introduction

When does a foetus become a person? Is it at the moment of conception? Or is it at birth? And at what stage does the killing of a foetus become murder? The 'death' of young Byron Shields, a seven month old foetus in a road rage accident in 2001 was the catalyst for immense controversy over the lack of legislation protecting unborn children, particularly from incidents where the death occurred either intentionally, or at the very least, because the assailant has acted recklessly. However, it was not until 2005 that the legislative gears of NSW parliament moved towards protecting the rights of unborn children. The Crimes Amendment (Grievous Bodily Harm) Act 2005 was passed in order to better protect women and their unborn children, particularly since several high profile cases had hit the media in recent times. These cases include Crown v. King, in which a man punched and kicked his de facto partner in the stomach and stomped on her; and Crown v. Leppiat, where John Henry Leppiat kicked his partner in the stomach. ...read more.

Middle

Similarly, the Crimes Amendment (Grievous Bodily Harm) Act 2005 shows the way in which the entire definition of child is starting to be questioned. For many years it has been considered by the legal system that a foetus isn't technically alive until it draws breath. However, this oft-debated topic has become more and more heatedly contested in recent years, due to both the increased prevalence of crime being directed at pregnant women, but also the differing perspectives that reflect these beliefs. There are many people who believe that the new legislation was taking the rights of women too far, and that as the foetus had not yet taken breath, it was not human, and therefore there is no way that it could be murder. There are others (particularly people affiliated with organisations such as the NSW Right to Life Association, or the Catholic Church), who believe that life begins at the moment of conception, and thus these actions equate as cold-blooded, premeditated murder. One of the largest influences in the passing of this law however was the immense political pressure being placed upon the government. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unless more appropriate actions are taken, will there ever be any chance for our own children to grow up in a world free from such atrocities? With the repealing of the Crimes Amendment (Grievous Bodily Harm) Act 2005, a major weapon in the fight to protect our children has been removed. Let us hope that we don't live to regret its removal. Bibliography ACT Legislation Register- Crimes (Offences Against Pregnant Women) Amendment Act 2006- Repealed [Internet] http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/2006-5/default.asp Accessed 26/11/06 Crimes Amendment (Grievous Bodily Harm) Bill 2005, Australasian Legal Information Institute (Last updated 24/11/06) [Internet] http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/bill/cabhb2005377/ Accessed 07/11/06 12/11/06 LIAC Crime Library, Legal Information Access Centre (Compiled 2006) [Internet] http://66.102.7.104/search?q=cache:CJN1Lv4ywwIJ:liac.sl.nsw.gov.au/pathway/pdf/liac_crime_library.pdf+renee+shields+case&hl=en&gl=au&ct=clnk&cd=11&lr=lang_en Accessed 24/11/06 NSW legislation website, Parliamentary Counsel's Office, [Internet] http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/viewtop/inforce/act+14+2005+FIRST+0+Y/?autoquery=(FragmentSGML%3D((%22crimes%20amendment%20(grievous%20bodily%20harm)%20act%22)))%20AND%20((RecordType%3D%22ACTFRAG%22)%20OR%20(RecordType%3D%22SRFRAG%22%20and%20Repealed%3D%22N%22))&dq=Document%20Types%3D%22Acts,%20Regs,%20Rep%20Acts%22,%20Exact%20Phrase%3D%22crimes%20amendment%20(grievous%20bodily%20harm)%20act%22,%20Search%20In%3D%22Text%22&fullquery=(((%22crimes%20amendment%20(grievous%20bodily%20harm)%20act%22))) Accessed 19/11/06 Sydney Morning Herald- Fatal Road Rage Driver Jailed- February 28th 2003 [Internet Article/Media Report] http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/02/27/1046064169448.html Accessed 26/11/06 Sydney Morning Herald- New Law to Protect Unborn as Killer Father Jailed- June 17 2004 [Internet Article/Media Report] www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/06/16/10872449799991.html Accessed 08/11/06 The Forum- Online Discussion [Internet] http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=3116 Accessed 24/11/06 25/11/06 The NSW Right to Life Association- Latest Releases Urgent Need For Action On Byron Law [Internet/Article] http://www.nswrtl.org.au/latestreleases/100304.html Accessed 12/11/06 19/11/06 WebLaw- Women and the Law, [Internet] http://www.weblaw.edu.au/weblaw/display_page.phtml?WebLaw_Page=Women+and+the+Law Accessed 16/11/06 18/11/06 ?? ?? ?? ?? Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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