“The maximum penalty will be three years on top of the maximum penalty for the existing offence,” Mr Speakman said.
“Dangerous driving occasioning actual bodily harm at the moment carries a maximum penalty of three years. If there’s been a loss of a fetus under this new offence, the maximum penalty will be 10 years. The maximum penalty will be fluid. This will recognise in the law the loss that families suffer when there is a loss of a fetus.”
The proposed laws do not grant a fetus legal personhood, which starts when a baby is born and takes its first breath.
The proposed changes would allow immediate family members of the pregnant woman to make a victim impact statement in criminal proceedings; the name of an unborn child lost to be included on the criminal chargesheet; allow family members to claim funeral costs following a motor accident and provide a one-off $3000 bereavement payment.
The new proposal marks a departure from plans announced 12 months ago to reform laws so the death of a fetus would count as an aggravating factor in the crime against the mother, following more than a decade of parliamentary debate around the death of unborn children.
“It’s about making sure the criminal law and the criminal justice process reflects and recognises the loss that the Brodie Donegan’s of the world and their families have suffered,” Mr Speakman said.
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