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Fighting for rights for the unborn

A press agency is hitting the headlines itself after taking the unusual step of launching a campaign over the rights of the unborn child.

South West News Service had no hesitation in getting involved when a drink-driver walked free from court after causing a crash that killed the unborn baby of Sharon Brooke.

Her child was due to be born just two weeks later but died from a fractured skull in the womb

Sharon’s father approached the agency in a bid to change the law after the driver pleaded guilty to drink-driving and careless driving after jumping a red traffic light. He was sentenced to 120 hours’ community service.

Sharon, of Kingswood, Bristol, and her family, launched a campaign for stiffer sentencing powers in cases involving unborn children.

The law as it stands does not class a child in the womb as a human life until it takes its first breath independently of its mother. That meant the driver could not be charged with taking a life.

However, a stillborn baby over 24 weeks must still have birth and death certificates, so Sharon had to register and name her dead child, causing her further anguish.

The family has teamed up with South West News to fight for basic human rights for the unborn child.

Sharon said after the court hearing: “There does not appear to be adequate provisions in law to deal with this type of offence.

“He killed a person but he may as well have driven over a mini roundabout as far as the legal system is concerned. There must be a change and it must come quickly.”

Her dad, Geoff, who is working to boost the number of names on the petition, added: “This man is not being prosecuted for what he has done. He took the life of a child.”

Jay Williams, assistant editor at the Bristol-based national news service, told HoldTheFrontPage: “Sharon’s Dad asked us to get involved and it’s the first time we’ve been asked to take part in anything like this.

“We’ve done follow-ups and kept up to date on the progress and during this time established a good relationship with the people involved.

“There was an obvious loophole in the law and we’ve used our website to publicise this further.

“There has been a very good response. There was a flood of e-mails after the original story broke and we’ve topped 350 so far.

“We’re working with Sharon’s dad who is also adding names to the petition.”

Britain’s top law officer, Lord Williams of Mostyn, the Attorney General, has agreed the law would benefit from re-examination.

Bristol East MP Jean Corston has joined the campaign, which is also being backed by Kingswood MP Roger Berry.

And Sharon has received a reply from Prime Minister Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, who she wrote to in her capacity as a human rights lawyer. Cherie expressed her deepest sympathy.

You can read more about the South West News campaign on its website at www.swns.com/campaign
You can e-mail them at campaign@swns.com

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