by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
November 22, 2004
Richmond Township, MI (LifeNews.com) — An investigation is underway in Michigan in the death of an unborn child, which police say is the result of a 16-year-old girl allowing her boyfriend to beat her with a miniature baseball bat.
Chief medical examiner Dr. Daniel Spitz said that the child died of premature birth associated with trauma to the mother. While the body was severely decomposed, it was determined to be a male child, about 6 months old.
According to police, the teens contacted the boy’s mother to help dispose of the body, which was buried in their backyard. Police discovered the body after a tip from friends of the teen mother who were told of the premature birth.
Charges have not yet been filed, but could include a charge of improperly disposing of a body against the boy’s mother, and charges against one or both of the teens in the death of the child.
A 1999 Michigan statute provides felony penalties for actions that intentionally, or in wanton or willful disregard for consequences, cause a "miscarriage or stillbirth," or cause "aggravated physical injury to an embryo or fetus."
The boyfriend could face more serious charges than the mother, according to Robert Sedler, a constitutional law professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. Sedler explained to the Detroit News that the mother is still technically a victim.
"[Consent] is not a defense to a criminal prosecution," said Sedler. "This is what happened to Dr. Kevorkian."
According to Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith, the boyfriend beat the mother in the abdomen with a miniature baseball bat every other day for three weeks.
Smith added that if the unborn child is not considered viable, or capable of living outside the womb, no charges can be filed against the mother. According to the autopsy report, the body was too decomposed to determine viability.
Right to Life of Michigan president Barbara Listing said in a statement that her organization will continue to encourage women to seek alternatives to violent ends to their pregnancies, including abortion.
"Sometimes the ‘why’ will never be answered, but this does give us an opportunity to talk about options for teens in similar situations," said Listing. "Untimely pregnancies do not have to end with a violent death for the unborn child; inside or outside of an abortion clinic."