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Abstract

Anne, a 20-year-old trainee nurse in England, became pregnant by a U.S. serviceman who had returned to the States. When she visited her parents in Ireland for her annual holiday, she knew she was pregnant and due to give birth. On the day of the birth, she felt unwell and remained in bed, secretly giving birth alone that evening in her bedroom. She admitted that she killed her infant moments after the birth:

Immediately after the baby was born I baptized it. I did not know whether it was a male or a female baby. I was not sure whether it was dead or alive. I tied a small green ribbon around the baby's neck tightly and then wrapped it in a kilt skirt and placed it in my large suitcase-a blue-grey fibre case-that was in my bedroom. The baby did not scream.

Afterwards, she went to a stream behind her house where she washed herself and rolled the afterbirth in some newspaper. She returned to bed and remained there all night. When she got up the next morning, she collapsed on the floor, and medical attention was sought. She was charged with murder but at the preliminary hearing at the District Court the charge was reduced to infanticide. She was convicted of infanticide at the Circuit Criminal Court. The trial judge, stating that he "felt sorry for her" but that he also had a "duty to protect the public," sentenced her to "six months imprisonment, suspended on her entering into recognizances to be of good behavior for five years.”

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