Australia Considers Unborn Victims Law After Violence Against Woman

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 17, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Considers Unborn Victims Law After Violence Against Woman

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
June 17, 2004

Sydney, Australia ( — Nearly three years after his death, a baby boy named Byron is serving as the inspiration behind a law designed to protect pregnant mothers and their unborn children in Australia.

In November, 2001, Renee Shields of Sydney lost her unborn son Byron after an incident of road rage.

Cases of violence against pregnant women have triggered widespread attention in Australia and renewed calls for tough sanctions against those who kill an unborn child through an act of violence.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Department has confirmed that "Byron’s Law" will be introduced as a new piece of legislation.

The introduction of legislation comes just as a 21-year-old man was sentenced to ten years in prison for maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm upon Kylie Flick, 19, who was pregnant at the time of the assault.

Flick’s unborn baby was killed after she was punched and kicked her in the front yard of her Yagoona home in August of 2002. Philip King, with whom Flick had a one night stand, stomped on her stomach six or seven times after she fell to the ground.

King had tried to coerce Flick into obtaining an abortion and had told two friends he would give them $500 if they punched her in the stomach.

Judge Norman Delaney said the case was "certainly unusual, if not unique" and that "the sense of loss in the Flick family can never be compensated by any sentence."

Flick left the courtroom in tears, saying she was "sick to the stomach" after seeing King and that she would never recover.

Doctors say Flick may never be able to have children as a result of the assault.

Ms. Flick told the Sydney Morning Herald, "I don’t think a life sentence will be long enough…it’s still nothing compared to what he has taken."

King has never apologized for the incident.

Flick’s father Steve told the Australian newspaper the family was devastated when an ultrasound showed the baby had no heartbeat following the attack.

"If anybody can imagine how that feels — to stand there and watch your daughter with her unborn child not alive inside her," Mr. Flick said outside the courtroom. "I think the unfortunate thing that’s been lost here and the one that’s been forgotten is the poor child … this is not something that just occurred; this was planned and it’s representative of the value of the child’s life."

"Ten years — that’s what a child’s life is worth. I’m sorry, but my children’s lives are worth considerably more than that," Flick added.

Ironically, a judge had earlier ruled that the baby’s death did not constitute harm to the mother and that the "born alive" rule meant that killing an unborn child was not an offense.

However, last year Justice Jim Spigelman of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal ruled that "the close physical bond between the mother and the fetus is of such a character that for the purposes of offenses such as this the fetus should be regarded as part of the mother."

A lawyer for King says he plans to appeal. He will be eligible for parole in February, 2009.