Last night Family Council staff member Charisse Dean appeared on KARK News in Little Rock to discuss Circuit Judge Herb Wright’s decision to drop a murder charge in the death of an unborn child earlier this week.
Following the judge’s decision, the Arkansas State Crime Lab, who is responsible for autopsies in homicide investigations, released a statement making three important points:
- When a pregnant woman dies from trauma — such a gunshot wound — her unborn baby dies from the trauma as well.
- It is “medically ludicrous” to suggest the unborn baby’s death may have been caused by anything else, as Judge Wright has done in this case.
- The crime lab’s doctor examined the unborn baby and determined the baby’s death was due to “maternal trauma” — the gunshot that killed the baby’s mother. However, the doctor may not have been given ample opportunity to explain his findings in court.
You can read the State Crime Lab’s full statement below (emphasis added):
“The Arkansas State Medical Examiners Office is charged with the responsibility of determining the cause and manner of death when local authorities request an examination of the body. In most instances, the examination will consist of a full autopsy; in other instances an external examination or a partial autopsy is enough to determine the cause and manner of death within reasonable certainty.
In cases where a pregnant woman dies suddenly and unexpectedly, fetal death occurs within minutes. When the mother has died from trauma, the fetus has died indirectly from trauma as well. In a situation where a pregnant mother has been fatally shot in the head, it is medically ludicrous to suggest that the intrauterine death of her fetus occurred from some other natural cause a short time before her own death. Is such a circumstance theoretically possible? The answer is yes, but with the caveat that the odds of such a circumstance are so incredibly small that they are essentially nonexistent .
When Dr Adam Craig performed the autopsy of Megan Price, he also performed an external examination of the fetus. This showed no evidence that the fetal death occurred prior to the death of the mother. Based on his examinations of the mother and the fetus, as well as his medical analysis, he concluded that the fetal death was due to maternal trauma. This conclusion was made within reasonable medical certainty. In his testimony, it would appear that he did acknowledge that incredibly small chance that the fetal death was not due to maternal trauma, but was not afforded an opportunity to explain how unlikely that would be. In my opinion, the fact that he did not perform an internal examination of the fetus does not significantly weaken the medical rationale for the stated cause of fetal death.
Finally, manner of death is not assigned in cases of fetal death, even when the death was due to violence.”
You can watch KARK’s coverage of this story below or read it here:
Photo Credit: By Rafael Alcarde Palomares (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.