A strange case has become the first of its kind after a woman was ordered by a judge to take a pregnancy test twice a year and submit the results to a probation officer if she wishes to stay out of jail. She was on trial after police discovered her fourth child, a newborn baby, struggling to breathe and in a plastic bag. The child later died of its injuries in the hospital.
But bizarrely the woman swore she had no recollection of the pregnancy, and was diagnosed with “non-psychotic pregnancy denial” and “dissociative amnesia”. It became apparent to the court that during this, and her three previous pregnancies, the woman refused to acknowledge any evidence whatsoever that she was pregnant. Authorities only became aware she was pregnant for her last three children after routine check-ups by doctors revealed her condition. As a result her first three children were born normal and healthy, and played a major role in the judge’s decision to spare the woman jail time.
The 43-year-old woman from Quebec has been handed a 20-month sentence for house arrest, with a further three years on probation. Her husband had discovered her lying in the bathtub with their fourth child wrapped in a plastic bag. It is believed she gave birth in the bath but the woman claims to have no memory or knowledge whatsoever of what happened. This has been corroborated by court psychiatrists, with even the prosecution showing no interest in having the woman jailed, instead pushing for the current unique arrangement.
“The accused is described as a gentle, patient and responsible mother,” said the judge. “Despite the amnesia, she feels a strong sense of guilt. She expresses great suffering and describes the situation as a tragedy.”
The woman and her council agreed to the conditions with her defence attorney saying,
“In this particular case, I find that all the circumstances called for it, and my client accepted it.”
A Quebec woman who pleaded guilty to infanticide has been ordered by a judge to take a pregnancy test every six... https://t.co/udwZDpqrqs— Justice For Missing (@Justice_Missing) 1 March 2018
Non-psychotic pregnancy denial is a strangely common condition which tends to dwindle as the pregnancy progresses. Studies found that around 1 in 475 women will experience it at around 20 weeks, but the incidence drops to 1 in 2500 by the time of delivery.
The condition covers a range of behaviours with some women showing a mild suspicion that they are pregnant, while others are completely oblivious to it and will refuse to acknowledge any evidence to the contrary. Others may instead know they are pregnant and try their best to conceal it. Many women who suffer from it will express a profound fear of having their child taken away from them if they are indeed pregnant, and having previously lost a child is a major risk factor.