'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

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Are even unarmed people a deadly threat to a pregnant woman?

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'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby Sparks2112 » Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:21 pm

I posted this over on TheFiringLine.com but thought I'd hear your guy's thoughts as well. :)

For those of you who don't know, my wife is pregnant right now (we find out the gender on 10/29 ) and I'm getting more and more protective as she gets larger / more unable to protect herself/the bump.

My question, does pregnancy constitute special circumstances in regards to your duty to retreat, and also what you can consider as deadly force being brought against you?

It would only take someone pushing her over the right way, or hitting her in the belly to not only kill the baby, but possibly cause some sort of internal trauma that would be life threatening to her. So can I consider anyone attacking us, even without weapons, as a deadly threat?
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby McM » Fri Oct 17, 2008 1:19 pm

Personally, I would. Just hope a jury would be filled with folks like us.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby carmen fovozzo » Fri Oct 17, 2008 2:30 pm

.................Hopefully there wouldn't have to be a trial. :wink:
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby charles1198 » Fri Oct 17, 2008 3:24 pm

I think so. It's a crime (manslaughter or murder, depending on the circumstances) to cause "the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy".

The voluntary manslaughter statute, for instance, states:
No person, while under the influence of sudden passion or in a sudden fit of rage, either of which is brought on by serious provocation occasioned by the victim that is reasonably sufficient to incite the person into using deadly force, shall knowingly cause the death of another or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy.

They don't have to be armed. A few years ago, one of the local gangsta wannabes was convicted of manslaughter for kicking his girlfriend in the stomach. She miscarried a few days later. He was upset about being a daddy. :x
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby djthomas » Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:02 pm

Sparks2112 wrote:My question, does pregnancy constitute special circumstances in regards to your duty to retreat, and also what you can consider as deadly force being brought against you?

Any action would be judged based on the totality of the circumstances. If you were two months pregnant and still running five miles a day you would probably be held to a different standard than a woman who is about to waddle into the delivery room. Being pregnant is not an automatic exception to having to retreat any more than any other factor is. Of course, as Charles stated there may be additional charges that could be brought against someone for harming an unborn child. But by the time something has escalated to the point where such charges would be likely, you'd most likely be justified in defending yourself on the spot.

On the other hand, if some dude is five feet away and pulls a gun your obligation to retreat is pretty much gone whether you're pregnant or a top conditioned marathon male athlete. Nobody is going to outrun a bullet.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby nemonis » Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:08 pm

My wife lurks on the forums and wanted to post this.
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First, congratulations to you and the missus. I'm all in favor of both open carry and concealed carry of children. To answer your questions from a maternal perspective: Yes. Deadly force is a much greater danger when a woman is pregnant. After two pregnancies, and now into my third, I can attest to the fact that a pregant woman, even one in good shape, is less maneuverable, or able to evade dangerous situations. Both unarmed force and armed force are problems. A simple fall would be unlikely to harm a baby, but the mother being pushed down a flight of stairs, or beaten, or blows to the abdomen can and have killed the unborn. For that matter, hazardous situations become accentuated during pregnancy: smoking, pollution, noise, stress—the list goes on and on. And some people think pregnant women are easy targets for purse-snatchings, robbery, and assault.

Regarding the duty to retreat, a father has to not only be aware of his own situation, but those under his care. When I am out walking with my young children in a stroller, I have to think not only of my own ability to escape, but whether I can safely retreat with them in tow.

In the case of People of the State of Michigan v. Kurr, (http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/abortion/mikurr10402opn.pdf) this very issue of defense of others went to the courts. Kurr, a woman 17 weeks pregnant with quadruplets, stabbed and killed her boyfriend after he punched her in the stomach twice, lunging at her a third time. She stated she was never in fear of her own life. Kurr argued that she should be aquitted on the grounds that she acted in defense of others, her unborn babies. The trial court refused this defense, saying the babies were pre-viable. They concluded that for a defendant to assert a defense of others, there had "to be a living human being existing independent of the defendant." It stated forther, "even under the evidence in this case, under 22 weeks, there are no others." She appealed based on the jury flawed view of defense of others, and won. (Thank God!)

In Ohio, the Revised Code 2903.01 defines aggravated murder, murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide, aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated vehicular assault, felonious assault, aggravated assault, assault, negligent assault. The law applies to a person which includes an "unborn member of the species homo sapiens, who is or was carried in the womb of another."

The question of self-defense and defense of others seems to be settled now. Laci and Connor's law- Violence Against Unborn Children Act (http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/abortion/unbornbill32504.html) is federal law. By that statute, "Whoever engages in conduct that...causes the death of, or bodily injury...to a child who is in uterto at the time the conduct takes place is guilty of a separate offense under this section. Except where otherwise provided in this paragraph, the punishment for that separate offense is the same as the punishment under Federal law for that conduct had that injury or death occured to the unborn child's mother."

So, the long and short of it is yes. Defense of others applies to the unborn, as well as the born, in most states. Check http://www.aul.org/UVV for a current summary of similar laws between states. Congratulations again, and protect that bump well!

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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby carmen fovozzo » Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:27 pm

..............I hope Maria posts here more often. That was very enteresting.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby 2/187Grunt » Fri Oct 17, 2008 4:36 pm

My wife and I are expecting our second child. I will/would do whatever it took to keep them safe. If I had to go before a jury for killing someone that I thought was a threat to her and the bump, then so be it. they would be alive and well.

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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby mrbone » Fri Oct 17, 2008 7:22 pm

The duty to retreat I believe is only required if possible and only if it makes you safer. If you can argue your wife is physically unable to retreat then the duty does not apply.

Here's an example given by my firearms instructor. He was a landlord and want to a house to collect overdue rent from a tenent. The wife answered the door, but the husband suddenly charged in. The husband used violence to literally throw his wife aside. All the while the husband was also threatening to kill the landlord and making violent, threatening motions with his body. The landlord took one step back, which brought him to a step. Due to war injuries, he has bad hips and was physcally unable to step downwards while walking backwards nor could he even run. The point he made here is that if he feared for his life then he could not retreat even though normal people could. (Nor could he turn his back and walk away since that arguably would increase his danger.) Thus had the tenant's death-threat been followed through with physical violence then he believed he could have legally shot the guy.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby muxtech » Fri Oct 17, 2008 9:53 pm

carmen fovozzo wrote:..............I hope Maria posts here more often. That was very enteresting.
Heck yeah! Thanks Maria. You should register.

Anyone who presents the intent, ability, and opportunity, to cause death or grave injury...
Pregnancy can play a role in all three criteria. It's hard to believe anyone could hurt a woman or a child. Unfortunately, we have to believe it because it does happen. The most troubling cases are the in utero baby snatchers. I'm even sorry to bring it up. It's that bad. But we're all here because we're willing to face the truth.

Be prepared but don't fret. Be situationally aware. You'll be fine. Blessings on all the expectant parents and their new babies.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby jburtonpdx » Sat Oct 18, 2008 5:14 am


Congratulations -- and good luck to you both!!!

I also have to say kudos for asking questions like this -- it shows a level of responsibility and concern that many parents don't seem to have nowadays.

I have to give a little bit of a speech here -- Its your job to ensure the safety and security of your family. That means that you have to ensure they are as safe as you can make them, even when you are not with them. I did this by making sure that my wife is trained and able to defend herself and the kids as well if needed. Now that the kids are getting older they are also trained and able to defend themselves. It also means that if you are with them and something goes down, have a plan. Its her job to get herself and the kids to safety, and your job to stop whatever threat presents itself from interceding in that. Whether its 1 person or 10 people, that's your job now. Pick the right time and discuss this with her. Make sure she knows what to do, both when you are there and when you are not there.

Its been said a bunch of times here in this thread already, the answer is as always a resounding -- it depends. What it all boils down to is a belief that you, her, or baby are in grave danger of severe bodily harm and are unable to retreat. The thing is that is subjective and will be reviewed by a bunch of people if it does happen.

Here is the thing -- we have talked about this before and I have not heard this cliche in a while -- I would rather be judged by 12 then carried by 6.

My 10 year old is not a fast little girl, she does not run quickly at all. If we were threatened by some piece of primordial ooze that happened to be on 2 feet (or 4 or whatever) I cant run away and leave her, its my job to deal with the threat so she can escape. If the threat is deadly or capable of inflicting grave bodily harm, I will use whatever force is necessary to eliminate the threat as quickly and absolutely as possible.

Same thing as far as I'm concerned with your wife, while pregnancy is not a disability, she is unable to move as quickly as she would have otherwise (depending on stage of the pregnancy) and circumstantially she may very well be unable to escape at all. In that case, fight like hell, everything and anything you and she can do to make her and you safe to raise the child. I have 2, they are worth everything I have and more and the reason I teach and train the things I do.

I teach self defense and fighting at a gym here in Central Ohio. One of the biggest hurdles I have in teaching people to protect themselves is the concept of hitting first. We are all raised with this idea that in order to be "right" we can never hit first. I firmly believe that if I hit first I have a much better chance of surviving a violent encounter. I can legally do this if I honestly believe that I or those I am responsible for (wife, kids) are in grave danger and we are unable to retreat.

All of the above of course is nothing more then my opinion (wimpy standard internet forum disclaimer), I am not an attorney, judge, prosecutor, police officer, butcher, baker, or candlestick maker. Do not consider what I have told you as legal advice, it is not.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby Sky Pilot » Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:42 am

An "unarmed person" is perfectly capable of causing the death of another, bare handed, with nothing but their own body as the offensive weapon.
This is possible whether the victim is pregnant or not.
For the specific case of a gravid mother -- I am thinking of the women in my life -- an adage comes to mind:
"There is no fiercer fighter in all of nature than the mother tiger defending her cubs."
So it is with the women of my acquaintance; whether the child is within or without her body, any who seek to harm their young will meet with as much unpleasantness as can be brought to bear.
I am purposely not discussing the response of the fathers of my acquaintance; the role of the father in such moments has already been well addressed.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby jeep45238 » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:25 am

Have you seen what unarmed people are capable of doing to random people out there, using the ground as a club? An unarmed person is a very real threat of deadly force to anybody, and I'm not going to wait to see how effective they are at it.
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby Mustang380gal » Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:28 am

As one of those pregnant women ready to waddle into the delivery room (the sooner the better!), I just wanted to add one thing to Maria's post.

A simple, ordinary fall can indeed prove fatal to the baby, especially in late term. A friend of ours tripped and fell at about 9 1/2 months. She went into labor two days later, which was much earlier than expected. She was bleeding, and was taken by squad to the hospital. Her placenta had detached partially, and there was a fair amount of blood loss. The detachment was attributed to the fall, and her attempt to minimize the injury (she twisted herself around to land better). Happily, the baby was delivered without incident, and although there was more blood loss than normal, neither suffered any undue harm. But that was because God was apparently smiling on them. The baby could indeed have died had they not gotten fast intervention, or the placenta had broken off more than it did.

One of the admission questions asked when a mom goes into the hospital to deliver is if there has been a fall in the last few days.

Hey Maria! Y'all come back now, y'hear!

Sparks! Congratulations!!! Babies are a lot of fun, and watching them grow into responsible adults is absolutely amazing. It's hard work, but well worth it!
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Re: 'Duty To Retreat / Deadly Force, while pregnant?

Postby Daniel » Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:37 am

Small little tangent here...

Does the sound of gunfire have any effect on an unborn baby?

I'm not referring to a self-defense situation, because that would be less harmful than a criminal attack, obviously. But, what about going to the range?
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