Legal Dictionary

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Feticide

Feticide is the act of killing a fetus. Under California Penal Code Section 187(a), murder is defined as the unlawful killing of a human being or fetus by another human being with malice aforethought. In most states, courts have held that for the murder of a fetus to apply, the fetus must be viable (i.e. must be at a sufficient stage of development [usually 20-22 weeks] to be able to sustain life outside the womb). Generally, the killing must be the result of a criminal human act. Although the act need not be the only cause of death, it must be the proximate cause. In California, the death must occur within three years and one day after the act that caused the injury. (See California Penal Code Section 194). Feticide does not refer to the death of a fetus due to natural causes. Feticide is sometimes referred to as child destruction or fetal homicide.