Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 69(3) August 2019


From: Antony Porter, London, W9


The sentencing of dangerous drivers who have killed pregnant women in road crashes presents an interesting area for future study, especially from a Catholic point of view. The topic seems so far to have been given scant attention and is often not known about until experienced.

According to my enquiries, under current British motoring laws a baby is not classed as a person until actually born. Consequently an unborn child's death in a road crash cannot be taken as a separate offence. Victim families are often shocked and infuriated when they discover that their child's life meant nothing.

Sometimes the babe is posthumously given a name. Past examples include Byron, Connor, Jamie, Sullivan and Thomas. Nevertheless, the situation raises questions about birth and death certificates. Furthermore, can there be salvation for children who have died so violently and without baptism?

In one case, the death of a baby could not be legally taken into account even though he had died at 31 weeks, two weeks more than the surviving mother when she herself was born. Indeed, such deaths are not included in official government statistics as they are not considered important.

All these themes are clearly "pro-motorist" legal loop holes that exemplify the motoring industry's influences upon the sentencing of dangerous drivers, enabling them to get back on the roads as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, motorisation issues remain the largest area of everyday life to be ignored by the Christian Churches and even the Catholic press prefers to focus upon speedy new cars and their performances.

Antony Porter. London, W9

Editorial comment

We absolutely agree with the author that it is wrong not to count, record or consider unborn fatalities occurring as a result of Road Traffic Accidents. But we would also point out that that injustice is not really related to road injuries. UK law denies the legal rights and status status of all unborn children, which is not considered to be a person.With the result that unborn children are not considered to have the legal status of a person until they are born.That in turn means that, in a crisis pregnancy where a foetus requires urgent medical care, a refusal of that care by the mother cannot be over-ridden as a result of the rights of the child.
A situation which is, we believe, fundamentally wrong and merits changes in UK law.

As well as that with regard to the baptism of those children who die before birth and before baptism can be administered, we commend the reader to this quote ” It can be asked whether the infant who dies without Baptism, but for whom the Church in its prayer expresses the desire for salvation, can be de­prived of the vision of God even without his or her cooperation[1]” from Vatican teaching


[1] The Hope Of Salvation For Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised. International Theological Commission. Promulgated by Cardinal Levada upon receiving the approval of the Holy Father Benedict XVI January 19 2007.­ments/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html