Headshot of Sarah Rayner - Solicitor at Everingham Solomons TamworthNew South Wales is the first state of Australia which has introduced Laws that makes it a criminal offence to cause the loss of an unborn child.

The legislation came into effect in late March and includes two new offences.

The first is a stand-alone offence which makes it a crime to cause the loss of a fetus. Previously, NSW laws only recognised the loss of an unborn child as an injury to the gestational parent. Now, there is a separate charge for the loss of a fetus.

This new law will be used in circumstances where the parent survives but loses an unborn child because of a crime being committed. This will now apply to a range of crimes including driving offences, bodily harm offences and the like.

This offence can carry a punishment of five (5) years to twenty-eight (28) years imprisonment, depending on the circumstances of the offence.

The second offence will be charged when a gestational parent is killed because of a crime. The punishment for this offence will be an additional three (3) years in prison (added to the sentence for killing the parent).

It is important to note that a person can only be charged with causing the loss of a fetus in circumstances where the fetus is at least 400g in weight or once the gestation period exceeds 20 weeks.

The new legislation also means that family members will also be able to submit victim impact statements to the Court addressing the loss of the unborn child. Victim impact statements are used by the Court when determining what sentence is appropriate for an offender.

The NSW Government have also announced a bereavement payment of $3,000.00 to be paid to the family of the victim/s if a person is charged with one of these offences.

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