Is Pregnancy A Serious Injury? Kind of.
By: Kelly Burke 03/30/2015
Ruh Roh. Did the Georgia Court of Appeals just say that pregnancy and childbirth is an injury? Yes they did. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. As Judge Dillard (Disclaimer – besides being a brilliant judge he is a friend of mine) said in his concurrence, “context is crucial.”
The case involved a factually consenting but legally unconsenting young woman (L.F.), age 13, who was impregnated by her 30-something boyfriend (Stephen Kendrick). In case you didn’t know, the age of consent in Georgia is 16 years old. Under 16, one cannot legally consent to sexual relations absent marriage. The child believed she was in a romantic relationship with Kendrick. Don’t all 13 year olds think it’s “love”? Alas, Kendrick, being the adult, should have known better. He wasn’t thinking with his brain and continued his relationship with the girl even though the father tried to break the two up. The girl ran away with Kendrick and nature took its course, resulting in the girl becoming pregnant.
The boyfriend was charged with aggravated child molestation, with the pregnancy being the injury required to get the “aggravated” part of the statute. Aggravated child molestation gets one a sentence of 25 years to life, but statutory rape only gets ten years. Big difference, so the “injury” part of the charge was important. Fulton County prosecutors went for the homerun and got it.
The case went to trial and the jury found Kendrick guilty. Judge Russell, a fine jurist who has rejected my eloquent arguments on a few occasions, gave Kendrick a life sentence plus two years. I like the extra two years. It’s like icing on the cake.
The Court of Appeals held that childbirth is painful, or at least her two day delivery was painful. So even though the girl made the conscious decision to deliver the baby, since she could not consent to sex in the first place, the resulting pain of childbirth constituted an “injury” for purposes of the statute. And that is where Judge Dillard made the decision to explain himself. Being a “pro-life” lawyer, judge and human, Judge Dillard wanted to make sure that everyone understood why he agreed that in this case, the “injury” of pregnancy and child birth was appropriate. Hence his “context is crucial” comment. I agree completely with his sound reasoning and that of the entire Court of Appeals panel. What the Supreme Court does with it, who knows?
Oh yeah, as a result of the jury’s decision, we will be providing housing for the boyfriend for the balance of his life sentence.
Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.