Unwilling Mothers, Unwanted Babies traces twentieth-century Canadian criminal justice responses to women who kill their newly born babies. Initially, juries proved reluctant to convict these women of murder because the charge carried the death penalty. In an attempt to impose uniformity and ensure a homicide conviction, a new infanticide law was passed in 1948, which remains to this day. Despite the changes, prosecutors still find it difficult to obtain a conviction, and now, amid media pressure, and with harsher penalties being demanded by the public, there are calls for the repeal of the infanticide law and the adoption of a more draconian approach to these cases. Kirsten Kramar provides an interdisciplinary feminist approach to the study of infanticide law, examining and linking historical, sociological, and legal scholarship. Drawing on a wide range of original data sources -- provincial and federal indictment case files, coroners' records, reported legal cases, Hansard Parliamentary Debates, official crime statistics, newspaper accounts, and expert medical texts -- she presents a detailed picture of the law's developments, revealing the often ironic consequences of attempts to rationalize this area of law.
Kirsten Johnson Kramar teaches in the Department of Sociology at the University of Winnipeg.
Acknowledgments Introduction 1 Regulating Infanticide through Concealment of Birth 2 Unwanted Babies: Humanitarianism and the Infant 3 The Insanities of Reproduction: Medico-Legal Knowledge Informing Infanticide Law 4 Unwilling Mothers: The Disappearance of the "Unwanted" Baby 5 Vengeance for the Innocents: The New Medico-Legal Designation of "Infanticide" as "Child Abuse Homicide" 6 Retributive Justice: The Disappearance of Infanticide Conclusion Appendix A: Current Legal Framework Governing Maternal Neonaticide References Index