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Feticide in Georgia

Georgia law criminalizing acts against fetuses changed dramatically in 2006. There are multiple statutes that criminalize acts against women that are pregnant, and before 2006, there were some complex questions about whether the fetus was sufficiently developed in order for the defendant to be prosecuted.


(a) For the purposes of this Code section, the term “unborn child” means a member of the species homo sapiens at any stage of development who is carried in the womb.

(b) A person commits the offense of feticide if he or she willfully and without legal justification causes the death of an unborn child by any injury to the mother of such child, which would be murder if it resulted in the death of such mother, or if he or she, when in the commission of a felony, causes the death of an unborn child.

(c) A person convicted of the offense of feticide shall be punished by imprisonment for life.

(d) A person commits the offense of voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child when such person causes the death of an unborn child under circumstances which would otherwise be feticide and if such person acts solely as the result of a sudden, violent, and irresistible passion resulting from serious provocation sufficient to excite such passion in a reasonable person; provided, however, that, if there should have been an interval between the provocation and the killing sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, of which the jury in all cases shall be the judge, the killing shall be attributed to deliberate revenge and be punished as feticide.

(e) A person convicted of the offense of voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than 20 years.

(f) Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to permit the prosecution of:(1) Any person for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman, or person authorized by law to act on her behalf, has been obtained or for which such consent is implied by law;(2) Any person for any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child; or(3) Any woman with respect to her unborn child.

O.C.G.A. § 16-5-80.

Prior to 2006 or so, there was a requirement in the feticide and feticide by vehicle statute that the baby be “quick”. While there was great debate over when a baby was quick, one thing was certain: conception alone would not suffice under the feticide or feticide by vehicle statute. I’m not so sure that is still the case under the current versions of the feticide and feticide by vehicle statutes.

There are no reported cases in the annotations for the feticide by statute at this time.

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About the Author

Ben Sessions, Attorney at Sessions Law Group
Ben Sessions

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