Shona Minson comments on recent case of mother sentenced for procuring abortion beyond legal limit.
Dr Shona Minson spoke on Radio 5 live, on LBC and on the Today Programme on Radio 4 on 13 June on the subject of the custodial sentence handed down to a woman with three children who procured an abortion beyond the legal term.
Shona’s research focuses on the effects of their parents sentences on the children of prisoners, mainly women. In this case the woman has three children, one of whom has special needs and who, the judge said, especially needs her love and support. The judge stated that there were no guidelines on sentencing that could be applied so he had to abide by the law as set down which states that this crime carries a custodial sentence.
Shona said that the judge had to do a complex balancing act between considering the serious nature of the crime and the effect of a custodial sentence on the children of the defendant. She highlighted the Guidelines around sentencing of parents with dependent children. She cited a Guideline made in April of this year that special care should be taken when sentencing in the cases of parents causing or allowing a child to die as it would be likely in those cases that there were dependent children. She agreed that it might be time for Parliament to look at this situation and examine the law under which the defendant was prosecuted which carries a custodial sentence and consider whether this is appropriate.
You can listen online to her interview with Naga Munchetty on Radio 5 Live (at timecode 1.23)
You can listen online to her interview on the Today Programme on Radio 4 (at timecode 1.14)