by Steven Ertelt
December 8, 2006
Suffolk, VA (LifeNews.com) — A Virginia woman who drew national attention and controversy in February when she shot herself on the day her unborn baby was scheduled to be born walked free from court on Friday. Tammy Skinner admitted to shooting herself to kill her baby because it was too late in her pregnancy to have an abortion.
Suffolk Circuit Court Judge Westbrook Parker dismissed the indictment against her saying that the laws on the books against killing the unborn do not apply to pregnant mothers.
According to a WAVY-TV news report, Parker and both the prosecutor and defense attorneys agreed the facts of the case are grim but said they couldn’t prosecute Skinner.
They had hoped to use a law dating back to the 1950s to hold Skinner accountable for criminally aborting her unborn child.
However a 2004 unborn victims law targeting those who would attack a pregnant mother and kill her baby exempts women. Legislation to protect pregnant women and unborn children from violence, which has been strongly promoted by pro-life organizations, routinely exempts any action by the pregnant woman herself.
It is included to protect women from being charged in cases of accidents that may result in injury or death to her baby.
Judge Parker also dismissed the charges against Skinner in October, which included producing an abortion or miscarriage.
Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Marie Walls told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper that her office is now out of options in their bid to hold Skinner accountable for the death of her baby.
“At this point our options are done,” she said. “It’s a matter for the legislature to address."
Skinner had apparently been suffering from depression at the time when she called police and told them she had been shot in the stomach. The full-term unborn child died as a result of the gunshot.
Under earlier charges, she was found guilty of filing a false police report. She will have to pay $1,200 in retribution.
The case has sparked a national abortion debate as pro-life advocates point to the inconsistency or arguments by abortion advocates that only illegal abortion causes women to do abortions on themselves.