Michelle Oberman was quoted in a Seattle Times article about a woman who was arrested 23 years after her infant son was found dead in a trash can.
For nearly 30 years, Michelle Oberman, a law professor at Santa Clara University has researched and written extensively about legal and ethical issues surrounding pregnancy and motherhood, including neonaticide, the term for infant homicide within the first 24 hours of life. She said the crime is marked by extreme impulsivity and not a deliberate, premeditated strategy seen in first-degree murder cases.
Those who abandon their babies tend to be “socially isolated, marginalized and vulnerable women who find themselves paralyzed in the face of pregnancy” without a trusted person in their lives to turn to for help, she said. In all but one case she’s studied, Oberman said the baby’s father was out of the picture long before the mother went into labor, and a lack of money and resources often factored into the decision to abandon a newborn.
“There’s blood on more than one set of hands,” she said of the circumstances surrounding an infant’s death through abandonment. “I think we’re so disturbed by the fact pattern that we fail to engage with what would cause a person to do this, deliver a baby unattended and react with that kind of fear and panic.”