Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the Failed Mother – Book Launch

In February 2022, Gender and Law at Durham (GLAD) and the Centre for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice (CCLCJ) hosted the launch of Dr Emma Milne’s (Durham Law School) book Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the Failed Mother.

Dr Milne presented the key findings from the book, outlining the implications for criminal law, criminal justice, and academic research in the areas of infanticide and women’s offending. A short commentary on the book was delivered by:

About the book

Analysis of criminal cases reveals that women suspected of killing their newborn children are some of the most vulnerable in our society and that infanticide is not just a historical issue but one that has modern implications. While women are less likely to commit violent crime, maternal infant homicide is an enduring form of offending that needs to be understood in a wider social context.

In Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide, Milne provides a comprehensive analysis of conviction outcomes through court transcripts of 15 criminal cases in England and Wales during 2010 to 2019. Drawing on feminist theories of responsibilisation and ‘gendered harm’, she critically reflects on the gendered nature of criminal justice’s responses to suspected infanticide.

This contemporary study makes a novel contribution to the fields of law, criminology and gender studies, arguing that through its inability to recognise the vulnerable position of accused women, and respond accordingly, the application of law reflects wider social judgments of pregnant women and mothers who challenge or fail to fulfil ideals of motherhood.

What is telemedical abortion and why is it important?

In March 2020 the UK Government introduced temporary measures to allow women to access earl medical abortions at home without needing to go to a clinic. This service needs to be made permanent. In this video I outline what telemedical abortion is, why it needs to become permanent, and the risks for women if at-home abortions are revoked.

Find out more about the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) campaign Care Not Criminalisation.

If you are pregnant and you need help and support, including advice about abortion, then contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service or MSI Reproductive Choices UK.

What is the problem with expecting women to put their children first?

In previous videos I have discussed the myths of motherhood, the expectation that women will be intensive mothers, and the damaging concept of ‘mother blame‘. In this extended video I build on each of these ideas about mothering to consider how and why we expect women to put their children first. I explore the history of this social and cultural expectation and the continuing detrimental consequences for women.

Webinar with Libertas Chambers

In October 2021, I presented at a Libertas Chambers event with Felicity Gerry QC. I discussed some of the key findings from my book Criminal Justice Responses to Maternal Filicide: Judging the Failed Mother (Emerald Publishing Limited, 2021) and Felicity gave some practical tips to barristers and solicitors who might defend women accused of crimes related to an infant’s death. You can watch the full webinar here.

Why are mothers to blame for everything?

When women have ‘problems’ or ‘fail’ as mothers, or children are seen to be ‘problems’, it is often women, the mother, who is blamed. Why is this? Why do we blame mothers? What is mother blame? What impact does it have on women and their families? Why does society blame women when they or their children face difficulties and hardships? Find out in this video.