Pregnant women are obviously extremely vulnerable to physical and emotional abuse, and such abuse not only endangers the women themselves but also their unborn children. The State of Texas takes pregnant women’s safety extremely seriously, and as such, has passed a law that expands the associated penalties for assaulting a pregnant woman. To learn more about this important topic, read on.
Domestic Abuse During Pregnancy
There is no doubt that domestic abuse is always dangerous and damaging, but when it occurs against a pregnant woman, the damage is even more concerning. In fact, the World Health Organization shares exactly how dire the consequences can be, including:
- Preterm labor and delivery for the mother
- Low birth weight for the child
- Inadequate weight gain during pregnancy for the mother
- Medical complications for the mother and/or the baby
- Greater incidence of STDs for the mother
- Greater incidence of miscarriage for the mother
- Greater incidence of depression for the mother
- Increased risk that the mother will abuse alcohol and drugs during the pregnancy
- Increased risk that the mother will smoke during the pregnancy
- Increased risk that the mother with be unable to adequately attach with the child after birth
- Negative physical and emotional effects for the newborn baby
In other words, the dangers for both mother and child are immense.
Domestic Abuse During Pregnancy Defined
When you think about domestic abuse during pregnancy, you likely think about physical violence toward the mother, but there is more to domestic abuse than this limited definition, and fortunately, Texas takes a more expansive view. Any of the following qualify as domestic abuse during pregnancy in Texas:
- Physical violence
- Sexual abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Verbal harassment
- Financial abuse
To qualify as domestic abuse during pregnancy, the two people involved must share an intimate relationship, but this does not end necessarily mean a romantic relationship. The perpetrator can be a spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, sibling, parent, or any other intimate partner. Further, the abuse can occur in any phase of the pregnancy, including labor and/or postpartum.
Texas Takes Action
Texas has taken some serious action in relation to domestic abuse and pregnancy. Because one of the surest ways to ensure that the abuse ends it to remove the perpetrator from the equation, assaulting a pregnant woman in Texas is a felony, which garners jail time. Anyone convicted of such a crime is subject to serious penalties that can include 2 to 10 years behind bars and fines of up to $10,000. These new harsher penalties went into effect in September of 2019.