Crimes causing the death of an unborn child would attract harsher penalties under draft Zoe’s Law legislation.
Crimes causing the death of an unborn child would attract harsher penalties under draft Zoe’s Law legislation.

‘Cop out’: Mum says draft Zoe’s Law doesn’t go far enough

A crime which causes the death of an unborn child will attract harsher penalties under draft government legislation agreed to by cabinet this week.

The controversial "Zoe's law" bill would make the death of an unborn child an "aggravating factor" to crim­inal acts that would see ­offenders cop tougher penalties rather than creating a separate criminal offence for killing a foetus.

Nick and Brodie Donegan, who lost their unborn daughter Zoe in a crash with a drug-affected driver. Picture: Tim Hunter
Nick and Brodie Donegan, who lost their unborn daughter Zoe in a crash with a drug-affected driver. Picture: Tim Hunter

But the NSW mum who ­inspired the legislation has slammed it as a "cop out".

"Putting the loss of a baby's life in the same category as broken bones isn't good enough," said Brodie Donegan, who was hit by a drug-­affected driver on Christmas Day in 2009.

Mrs Donegan, who was eight months pregnant, suffered multiple injuries and her daughter Zoe was ­stillborn.

"I'm grateful that Gladys (Berejiklian) is doing something, but it's a cop out. She said two years ago in an election promise she would ­address Zoe's law and she's only doing something now ­because she is mindful of her status in the polls," she said.

Two years ago Ms Berejik­lian pledged to introduce new laws to better recognise the loss of a child as a result of a criminal act, rather than support a similar bill from Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile.

Details of the proposed legislation are still being tightly guarded but it is set to go to Coalition MPs for consultation next week.

The Daily Telegraph understands that during Monday's cabinet meeting, Ms Berejiklian warned ministers against leaking details.

Various bills on the issue have come before parliament but never resolved amid concerns it could further complicate the state's abortion laws.

Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s preference is for the maximum sentence of a criminal act to be increased by three years if it involves the death of an unborn child. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer
Attorney-General Mark Speakman’s preference is for the maximum sentence of a criminal act to be increased by three years if it involves the death of an unborn child. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Monique Harmer

The proposed reform was outlined in consultation document sent to Ms Donegan, which stated Attorney-General Mark Speakman's preference was for the death of an unborn child to increase the maximum sentence for a criminal act by three years.

In the case of dangerous driving causing grievous bod­ily harm, "the maximum penalty would be 10 years imprisonment instead of seven years imprisonment," the document states.

Bronko Hoang, who lost his unborn twins Roman and Archer in a crash in Orchard Hills two years ago welcomed the development but said he was still grieving their deaths and did not have the fight to push for a change in law.

"I've lost my babies, there's nothing I can do to bring them back," he said.

"The fact that Gladys has looked at taking into account their lives in sentencing a convicted motorist is one step forward and for me right now that's enough."

Originally published as 'Cop out': Mum says draft 'Zoe's law' doesn't go far enough


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