Copyright (c) 1995 The Campbell Law Review
Campbell Law Review
ARTICLE: PERSON OR THING -- IN SEARCH OF THE LEGAL STATUS OF A FETUS: A SURVEY OF NORTH CAROLINA LAW
17 Campbell L. Rev. 169
Tony Hartsoe *
What is the status of a fetus in North Carolina? This the primary question addressed by Mr. Hartsoe as he analyzes and critiques the case law and statutory enactments which deal with this question. While there is some case law and statutory authority on point, Mr. Hartsoe concludes that there is an overall paucity of law which defines the legal status of a fetus and, furthermore, the law that does exist is inconsistent. As such, Mr. Hartsoe examines the legal status of a fetus in North Carolina in the areas of wrongful death, prenatal injury, criminal law, wrongful life, wrongful birth, and wrongful conception. After analyzing relevant cases and statutes, Mr. Hartsoe explores the rationales used by courts in developing case law in each area. Further, Mr. Hartsoe then suggests changes in this law and examines the problems inherent in maintaining the different legal statuses of a fetus. In closing, Mr. Hartsoe provides a comprehensive bibliography in each area with practical notes that should unequivocally aid the practitioner who delves into these areas.
North Carolina has seldom litigated the status of the fetus in any context. Like most states, it has followed the common law until this century. When wrongful death statutes became prevalent, the tide turned in favor of recognizing a child's cause of action for injuries received in the womb. Scientific recognition that human life begins at conception has given courts and legislatures reason to reexamine the law as it applies to the ...
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