Friday, November 04, 2005

Canadian Judas-Prudence: "Are you making plans or are you going to dumpster the baby?"

EDMONTON (CP) No more jail for Edmonton woman who concealed birth, put baby in garbage bag

LISA ARROWSMITHThu Nov 3, 8:09 PM ET

EDMONTON (CP) - A woman who admitted to concealing her pregnancy and later placing her newborn baby in a garbage bag was spared further jail time Thursday.

A Court of Queen's Bench justice sentenced 23-year-old Nicole Anderwald to 90 days for causing the baby's death by neglecting to get help after giving birth and another 40 days for disposing of the infant.

But because she had already spent 3 1/2 months in custody, Justice Terrance Clackson decided to let Anderwald go free. She will be on two years probation.

"While this is about loss of life, this is not about murder," said Clackson, who noted that Anderwald's crimes involved deception but not violence.

"I'm not sentencing a killer, but a desperate woman wanting to hide her pregnancy from the world."

Patty Nixon, executive director of Alberta Pro-Life, called the ruling significant.

"It's certainly very disconcerting and it gives you an example of the value that is placed on human life," she said.

"Now when people hear of a child that is just abandoned and left to die, there's no uproar. There's this awkward silence . . . it was a poor situation, she was from some sort of background that was maybe, possibly dysfunctional, who knows? But they're finding some reason to justify that it was OK. And it's not OK."

Clackson said while the court must denounce Anderwald's actions, psychiatric reports show she was mentally unbalanced when she secretly gave birth to a daughter last year.

"The emotional repercussions will be a cross to bear for a long time to come," the justice added.

Clackson also took the unusual step of ordering the young woman to submit the results of quarterly pregnancy tests to her probation officer. That's to make sure that if Anderwald gets pregnant, she'll get the help she needs.

"I'm not trying to see that you not become pregnant," Clackson explained to Anderwald.

"But if you do, I'm taking steps to make sure the world knows about it.".

Last month, court heard Anderwald gave birth to a baby girl Aug. 9, 2004, in the bedroom of her family's Edmonton home before passing out.

After she woke up, she put the baby in a garbage bag beside her bed, had a bath and watched TV. Anderwald later told a psychiatrist the baby didn't move so she thought it had been stillborn.

She had tried to conceal her pregnancy by telling people she had a tumour, or was gaining weight, but relatives already suspected she was pregnant.

At one point, court heard, her mother gave her a note asking: "Are you making plans or are you going to dumpster the baby?"

Before going to work the day after the birth, Anderwald stuffed the garbage bag in her bedroom closet where her mother later found it.

Co-workers said she was happy and told them an operation to remove a tumour the size of a watermelon had been a success. She was arrested by police at work.

Before she was sentenced, a pale Anderwald rose in the prisoner's dock and read from a statement, apologizing to her family and friends - many of whom she said still feel they failed her.

"I wish I could change the past and bring Angela back," she said, using the name she gave the child.

"Unfortunately, I cannot. For the rest of my life I will always wonder what she could have become and feel the pain of loss and regret."

The judge also said she should continue working at the call centre where she has had a job since before becoming pregnant, or report any changes in employment to her probation officer.

Anderwald was originally charged with second-degree murder, but the charge was reduced to infanticide after a preliminary hearing.

On Oct. 7, she pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of causing the death of a baby by neglecting to obtain assistance in childbirth and disposing of the body of a child.

9 comments:

Robert F. Walsh said...

She got 90 days for killing the baby, and 40 days for disposing of the baby. Somewhere, there's a very confused crying indian pondering the benefits of littering...

What a fucked-up world we live in.

Whetam Knauckweirst said...

The only people who receive stiff sentences in Canadian Judas-Prudence are people wrongfully accused of crimes. If this girl was innocent of the crime she would have received ten life sentences.

It is, indeed, a fucked up world we live in. Canadian Judas-Prudence is salt in the bewildered wound.

Ascendantlive said...

I just don't understand how a person could do this in the first place. In the U.S. a new mother can drop her child off at police stations, fire stations, or hospitals within 30 days(I think it's 30 days) of the birth anonymously and with no penalties whatsoever, foster care is certainly not the best way to go but it's better than murder. I don't know if Canada has a similar law, unfortunatly with plenty of other options these horrible crimes still occur. What I really don't get is why is 'infanticide' a legally 'lesser' crime than 2nd degree murder? It's saying that killing a baby is like putting a dog to sleep, but killing an adult is a heinous crime worthy of 15 years in prison. Violent or not withholding medical care to a person who needs it to survive is a crime worthy of a serious penalty...I'm not sure if it's comforting or frightening to find that another nation's justice system is as fucked up as the U.S.'s.

Whetam Knauckweirst said...

Yeah, every detail of this hideous crime speaks of a perpetrator who is seriously fucked in the head. We're not talking about a panicked teenager hiding candy bar wrappers under her mattress, we're talking about someone killing a defenseless baby. The judge in the case did everything but give the murderer a lollipop and a hundred-dollar-bill.

Tarn said...

This comment is not to say that what this woman did is not a crime. But for the sake of responding to some other comments, I'd like to offer some words. First of all, even in the US homocide IS a lesser crime than 2nd degree murder; infanticide is just more clearly stating that the victim was an infant. Secondly, if this woman was telling the truth, and if she really did "pass out" upon giving birth, then it was an unintentional act. It would be different if she remained conscious and knowingly neglected to clear the air passageways in order to cause death to the child. Certainly the whole mess is unfortunate, but I don't think this court decision makes any kind of political statement about abortion.

Ascendantlive said...

Tarn,
you're right, this has nothing to do with abortion. However, according to the woman she regained consciousness and assumed the child was already dead, she never even tried to get medical care for her baby. I think that's where the real crime took place. Child birth is traumatic and dangerous, I understand that and why she passed out. But those are the very reasons people interested in protecting their children and themselves have a doctor deliver the baby. Would more punishment make any difference? Not really, but their has to some sort of consequence, even if it's just a few hundred hours of community service at an appropiate location...something more than saying, 'oh, it's okay you didn't mean to do it'. That excuse never worked for me in grade school. So no, I'm not advocating sending a non-violent criminal offender to prison for 10 years...jail time rarely fits the crime. But then, I'm not the judge and I wasn't there.

Whetam Knauckweirst said...

Excellent points from everyone! My problem with this case is that the judge involved seemed almost to be aplogizing to the defendent for bringing her into court. Should this stupid, negligent girl be sentenced like a serial killer? No way. But Canadian Judas-Prudence just cleared the way and made her mistake all the more acceptable -- at least among our judiciary (who already have a blighted sense of reality).

This wretched judgment in this case did more to encourage scared, intellectually-low-octane pregnant girls to dispose of their babies than to seek help.

Anonymous said...

I worked with this person previously and she was mentally unbalanced from her first pregnancy, which she carried to term and gave up for adoption. This person did not have a healthy nor supportive home life. I can only imagine what this girl went through mentally when she found herself pregnant a second time. I do not sanction illegal activities but this person was obviously mentally distressed. I can only imagine what sort of child she would have produced; if adopted at birth the child would have had a chance at normalcy but to be brought up in the basically abusive home Nikki's mother adhered to I think the child would have continued the legacy of abuse. I think this was for the best.

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Anonymous, am I correct in assuming that you are some sort of social worker? If so, please quit. Today. Resign immediately. You're a monster.

"I think this was for the best" you write. You are a sociopath. You are insane. You are unfit for human interaction.

Swallow a handful of pins while standing with your back to the top of a tall flight of stairs. I think that would be for the best.

No wonder our judicial and social services systems are so completely and utterly and hopelessly fucked. We have people like you working in those systems.