section 242

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Failing to provide reasonable assistance during childbirth with intention to harm or conceal the birth is a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison if the child is permanently injured or dies.

SECTION WORDING

242 A female person who, being pregnant and about to be delivered, with intent that the child shall not live or with intent to conceal the birth of the child, fails to make provision for reasonable assistance in respect of her delivery is, if the child is permanently injured as a result thereof or dies immediately before, during or in a short time after birth, as a result thereof, guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

EXPLANATION

Section 242 of the Criminal Code of Canada is intended to protect the lives of newborn children by holding accountable women who intentionally fail to provide reasonable assistance during delivery. This provision applies specifically to pregnant women who intend to cause harm or to conceal the birth of the child. If a woman fails to make reasonable provisions for the assistance needed during delivery and the child is permanently injured or dies as a result, the woman can be charged with an indictable offence. She may face imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years under this provision. The purpose of this section is to ensure that women take responsible measures to ensure the safe delivery of their babies. The failure to provide adequate care during childbirth can be severely detrimental to both the mother and child. Therefore, this provision is designed to protect the rights of the unborn child and to promote safe childbirth practices. It should be noted that in Canada, there are other provisions in the Criminal Code that address infanticide and homicide in cases where the baby is killed after birth. Section 242 does not apply to such cases, as it pertains specifically to the period of delivery and the failure to provide reasonable assistance to the child during this time. Overall, Section 242 serves as an important protection for the lives of newborn babies in Canada and reinforces the responsibility that women have to care for their children during and after pregnancy.

COMMENTARY

Section 242 of the Criminal Code of Canada is an important legislation that addresses the issue of maternal neglect and infanticide. The section specifically pertains to female individuals who are pregnant and are about to deliver a child but intentionally fail to make appropriate arrangements for reasonable assistance in respect of the delivery. As per the provisions of the section, these individuals are guilty of an indictable offense and could be liable for imprisonment for up to five years, if the child is permanently injured or dies as a result of their actions. It is significant to note that the section aims to protect the right to life of the unborn child and the child being born. The intent behind the section is to prevent cases where a pregnant woman, for various reasons, intends to harm or cause the death of the child during delivery or immediately after it. In such cases, where the woman fails to obtain the required assistance for delivery and the child faces such consequences, the section considers it a criminal offense. The provision is particularly important as it aims to ensure that both the mother and the child receive the necessary medical attention and support during childbirth. Moreover, the section also addresses the aspect of concealing the birth of a child. This provision is significant as it aims to curb cases where individuals may try to hide or dispose of the newborn child in an attempt to cover-up the pregnancy. This practice is not only illegal but also poses significant risks to the child's life. Overall, Section 242 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a commendable provision that seeks to promote the welfare of the child and ensure that the rights of the unborn child are protected. As society further progresses, it is important for laws to reflect updated societal values and expectations, and Section 242 is in line with current values of reading into protecting vulnerable populations such as newborns and their mothers.

STRATEGY

When dealing with Section 242 of the Criminal Code of Canada, it is important to consider the various legal, ethical, and societal implications that come with prosecuting individuals who fail to provide reasonable assistance during childbirth. This section of the Code was enacted as a means of protecting the life and health of newborns, and it is therefore crucial to ensure that any strategies employed in its enforcement are effective in achieving this goal. One key strategic consideration when dealing with Section 242 is the need for sensitivity and understanding towards the individual who has committed the offence. Pregnancy and childbirth are complex experiences that can be accompanied by a range of physical, emotional, and psychological challenges. It is possible that a mother who fails to provide reasonable assistance during childbirth may be dealing with mental health issues, financial challenges, or other factors that influenced her decision-making. As such, it is important that any strategies employed in enforcing this section of the Code take into account the individual circumstances of the offender and prioritize rehabilitative approaches over punitive ones wherever possible. Another important strategic consideration when dealing with Section 242 is the need to balance the rights and wellbeing of the child with those of the mother. While the primary objective of this section of the Code is to protect newborns, it is also important to ensure that the mother is not subject to undue harm or trauma as a result of prosecution. One possible strategy that could be employed in this context is to provide support services to mothers who are struggling with the challenges of childbirth and motherhood, such as access to mental health care, financial assistance, and community resources. Other strategies that could be employed when dealing with Section 242 may include increased education and awareness campaigns targeted at preventing such offences from occurring in the first place. For instance, public health initiatives that provide information and resources to expectant mothers about the importance of seeking medical attention during delivery, or that encourage friends and family members to support expectant mothers during this time, could help to reduce the incidence of situations where mothers feel that they need to conceal their pregnancy or fail to seek assistance during delivery. Ultimately, the enforcement of Section 242 must be guided by a commitment to protecting the life and health of newborns while also recognizing the complex circumstances that may have contributed to an individual's failure to provide reasonable assistance during childbirth. By employing a range of strategic approaches, including rehabilitative and preventative measures, it may be possible to effectively enforce this section of the Criminal Code of Canada while minimizing harm to both mothers and children.