Most recently I have responded to the Law Commission’s consultation asking which areas of law should be reviewed in their 14th programme of law reform.
The Law Commission: 14th Programme of Law Reform
In 2021 the Law Commission asked for contributions to shape law reform priorities for the next four years. In my written response I highlight the need for a review of the criminal offence of concealment of birth. Drawing on findings from my research, I argue that the continued existence of the law and the way it is applied to cases needs urgent investigation as:
- The offence is predominantly used when women are suspected of killing newborn children, but there is not enough evidence to convict them of a homicide offence (murder, manslaughter, or infanticide).
- The offence is also used as a proxy for foetal homicide laws.
- The women who are captured under this law are incredibly vulnerable, experiencing a crisis pregnancy.
- The offence is so broad as to allow these vulnerable women to be criminalised in instances where they abandon the dead body of the baby in a panic and out of fear.
- As the offence can be broadly applied it places all women of reproductive age at risk for over-criminalisation. The vulnerabilities experienced by those convicted of this offence are specific to women due to their ability to become pregnant. Thus, this offence demonstrates a sex-based discrimination against women.
Read my full response here.