From Ancient Israel to Modern Israel: The Historical Development of the Protection of a Fetus in Criminal Law
50 Israel Yearbook on Human Rights 149 (2020)
17 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2021
Date Written: June 1, 2020
On December 12, 2018, Amiad Yisrael Lev-Ran died. Three days earlier, while Amiad was still in his mother’s womb, Palestinians in a passing car opened fire on a group of people waiting at a bus stop – among them, Amiad’s mother and father. After Amiad’s mother was critically wounded, doctors at Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem delivered her baby in an emergency C-section, however the baby survived for only a few days.
This heart-breaking tragedy is but another example of a criminal act done to a fetus leading to loss of life. Already in the Book of Exodus, the Bible set out rules dealing with situations in which a fetus was the victim of a criminal act. As we shall see, the central Biblical verses involved were subsequently interpreted in various ways and became the basis for differing points of view in regard to the degrees of culpability and punishment for acts done to a fetus in different circumstances.
Our discussion will take us from ancient Israel through Hellenistic times to Catholic Canon Law, which laid the basis for the Common Law approach to this matter. We shall then mention some of the modern international developments, especially in regard to statutory amendments, and then return to modern Israel and discuss the recent case law in this area.
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