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Yet infanticide—the killing of an infant at the hands of a parent—has been an accepted practice for disposing of unwanted or deformed children since prehistoric times. Despite human repugnance for the act, most societies, both ancient and contemporary, have practiced infanticide. Based upon both historical and contemporary data, as many as 10 to 15 percent of all babies were killed by their parents.
The anthropologist Laila Williamson notes that infanticide has been practiced by nearly all civilizations. Williamson concludes that infanticide must represent a common human trait, perhaps genetically encoded to promote self-survival.
Neonaticide is generally defined as "the homicide of an infant aged one week or less. Infanticide in general usage is defined as "the homicide of a person older than one week but less than one year of age.
Changing Views of the Nature of the Child The helpless newborn has not always evoked a protective and loving response, in part because the newborn was not always believed to be human.
This belief legitimized an action that under other circumstances would be referred to as murder. For example, the ancient Romans believed that the child was more like a plant than an animal until the seventh day after birth.
During the Middle Ages, children born with physical defects or behavioral abnormalities were often viewed as evil or the product of supernatural forces.
Changelings were infants believed to be exchanged in the still of the night by devils or goblins who removed the real child and left the changeling in its place.
To view the child as potentially evil, dangerous, or worthless, rationalizes the desire to eliminate the burden or threat without guilt or remorse. Historically, birth was not necessarily viewed as a transition to life. Common law in England presumed that a child was born dead.
According to early Jewish law, an infant was not deemed viable until it was thirty days old. During the s the chief rabbi of Israel, Ben Zion Uziel, said that if an infant who was not yet thirty days old was killed, the killer could not be executed because the infant's life was still in doubt.
In Japan, a child was not considered to be a human being until it released its first cry, a sign that the spirit entered its body.
Scientists and ethicists continue to disagree about when life begins, fueling the moral debate surrounding abortion and infanticide.
The twenty-first-century moral philosopher Michael Tooley contends that neonates are not persons and as such neonaticide should not be classified as murder.
Tooley has suggested that infanticide should be allowed during a brief e.
Several symbolic acts were indicative that the infant was indeed human and worthy of life. In many cultures, it was illegal to kill the child once the child was named, baptized, received its first taste of food, or swallowed water.
Symbolic acts such as these afforded the child protection in the event that the child became an economic or emotional burden.
Legal Perspectives on Infanticide Until the fourth century, infanticide was neither illegal nor immoral. Complete parental control of the father over the life of his child was dictated by both early Greek and Roman laws. Patria potestas refers to the power of the Roman father to decide the fate of his child, even before birth.
However, if a mother killed her child she would be punished by death. Legal sanctions against infanticide were introduced in the fourth century as Christianity infused secular laws.
The Roman emperor Constantine, a Christian convert, proclaimed the slaying of a child by the child's father to be a crime. Infanticide was punishable by the death penalty by the end of the fourth century. Around the same time, the Christian emperor Valentinian declared that it was illegal for parents to fail to provide for their offspring.
Thus, by the Middle Ages, infanticide was no longer condoned by either church or state in Europe. However, as a result of hard times and a high illegitimacy rate, infanticide was the most common crime in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the end of the eighteenth century.
During the Renaissance period, the criminal justice system took a strong position against infanticide. Widespread poverty and political unrest throughout Europe resulted in high infant mortality rates. Legislation in France demanded the death penalty for mothers convicted of this crime.
In Prussia's King Friedrich Wilhem I decreed that women who killed their children should be sewn into sacks and drowned.
Infanticide has existed as a separate statutory crime in England since Under English legislation the Infanticide Act ofa mother who kills her child within the first year of the child's life is assumed to be mentally ill.
The highest crime she can be charged with is manslaughter. English juries are reluctant to sentence women to prison for this crime, while fathers can be charged with homicide. Early American parents found to be child killers were punished by death.Jun 19, · This article focuses on the use of therapeutic injections (see the image below) to treat acute and chronic pain syndromes.
Discussion of this topic begins with an overview of regional anesthesia, which includes the pharmacology of frequently administered medications and basic information regarding equipment and safety.
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