Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Smith County DA, Matt Bingham, Speaks Out Against Postpartum Depression Defense

Matt Bingham does not support HB 3318 that provides that postpartum depression is a defense to infanticide with the penalty being 2 years in a state jail facility.

I would have to agree with him on this one, folks. If the mother meets the legal standards for insanity then 46C applies, if her mental health is a mitigating circumstance, then use it as such. This law provides for no standard definition of the level of mens rea. It makes no mandate for mental health treatment in the state jail facility or afterwards. This law sets a mother up for suicide. If mental health treatment is not mandated, nobody is going to donate it!

However, it gets Matt Bingham on the news talking about mental health issues which is an anomaly in itself!

Postpartum depression could be used as legal defense for mothers

Click here for the video.

By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Texas could become the first state to have an infanticide law. Democratic state representative Jessica Farrar of Houston filed the bill earlier this month.
If the bill is passed, a mother who killed her baby and suffered from postpartum depression, would get a maximum sentence of two years in jail.

In 2003, Deanna Laney used rocks to stone and kill two of her sons. She was found "not guilty by reason of insanity." Smith County D.A. Matt Bingham says this new bill would not affect cases like Laney's. Instead, it would apply to mothers who suffer from Postpartum Depression - a far less severe illness.

"I think 80 percent [of new mothers] suffer from some form of Postpartum Depression after birth but most of them do not kill their children," said Bingham.

If they do suffer from depression, Bingham says jurors can already take that into consideration.

"But, they could never access two years in state jail facility, which is the same punishment you get if you write a 1500 hot check," said Bingham. "To me that's just ridiculous."

That's right. If the bill passed, a woman suffering from depression who killed her baby within 12 months of birth could only be sentenced to two years.

"When parents do such things to babies who are one day old to 12 months in this bill and they know it's wrong to do it, and they do it anyway, they should be prosecuted and they should be punished severely whether it's the death penalty or life without parole," said Bingham.

He says passing the bill would be a slippery slope because murder suspects already try to plead insanity. With this, mother's could use a far less severe illness, and one that's more prevalent to get away with a crime.

"If mothers know that this is out there, there's always a possibility that they can do something horrific like kill their child that's 12 months or younger and try to use this as a defense," he said.

Bingham believes the bill is too far fetched and will never pass. Postpartum Depression is recognized as a legal defense in some other nations, but nowhere here in the United States.

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