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Judge's ruling protects unborn children from domestic violence

As women in New Jersey know, when a woman is pregnant, not only must she protect herself from harm, but also her unborn child as well. Undoubtedly, this can put a lot of stress on the mother. This is especially true when a mother feels like she could do more to protect the baby, but for other reasons, is unable to do so.

For example, if a woman is suffering from domestic violence, or is afraid she might become the victim of domestic violence, she can take legal steps to protect herself, such as getting a restraining order against the abuser or the person who might abuse her.

But what about a woman who is pregnant? Will the restraining order protect the baby after it is born as well?

Until recently, the answer was no. Fortunately, a ruling by a New Jersey Superior Court judge has made it easier for women who are pregnant and are victims of domestic violence to obtain a restraining order against their abuser for both her and her future born child. The ruling came about after a pregnant 17 year old was attacked by an 18-year-old male, along with four other 17-year-old women. The incident occurred after an argument about whether or not the mother would keep the baby. While the woman suffered severe trauma due to the incident, it is unknown whether her unborn child received any injuries.

Normally, New Jersey law does not recognize an unborn child as a person with legal rights. That is why before the ruling, it was not possible for the expectant mother to obtain a restraining order that also protected the baby once it was born. She would have to go to court to obtain a subsequent restraining order so that the baby could be protected. In such a case, she may be forced to face her abuser yet again in order to obtain the order. Thanks to the judge's ruling, however, that is no longer the case. An expectant mother who obtains a restraining order will not only be protecting herself from her abuser, but also her child once it is born.

Source: nj.com, "Women can seek restraining orders for unborn children, N.J. court rules," Salvador Rizzo, May 3, 2013

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