Unintentional Abortion



Art. 257.  Unintentional abortion. — The penalty of prision correccional in its minimum and medium period shall be imposed upon any person who shall cause an abortion by violence, but unintentionally.  

ELEMENTS

1. There is a pregnant woman; 
2. Violence is used upon such pregnant woman without intending an abortion; 
3. Violence is intentionally exerted; 
4. As a result of the violence the fetus dies, either in the womb or having expelled therefrom

Unintentional abortion is committed only by violence

•  Where a man pointed a gun to a pregnant woman threatening to kill her and because of the fright she suffers an abortion, the offender is guilty of THREATS only. 

Violence must be intentionally exerted

•  A truck driver who accidentally hit a calesa that caused the pregnant woman riding the calesa to have an abortion three days after was liable for UNINTENTIONAL ABORTION THRU RECKLESS IMPRUDENCE. 

•  If the offender does not know that the woman is pregnant, and abortion results from a felonious violent act, it is unintentional abortion.

Is there unintentional abortion by means of intimidation?

•  None. IA results only from physical violence, not intimidation. Hence, thrusting a gun against a pregnant woman in a quarrel would bring about other light threats but not unintentional abortion.

In short, unintentional abortion is:

a. by violence (physical) and not intimidation;
b. by strangers, NOT by the pregnant woman.

Is the accused liable for abortion even if he did not know that the woman was pregnant?

•  Even though it was not the criminal intent of the defendant to cause the abortion, the fact that without any apparent reason whatsoever, he maltreated T, presumably not knowing that she was pregnant, as author of the abuse which caused the miscarriage, he is liable not only for such maltreatment but also for abortion. 

Complex crime of homicide with unintentional abortion

•  Where the accused, in becoming angry with a pregnant woman, struck her with his fist, causing her to fall to the ground and when she got up, hit her again a second time causing her to fall again resulting in a premature delivery of one of her twin babies, the other not having been born because the woman died is liable for HOMICIDE with UNINTENTIONAL ABORTION.

•  However, mere boxing on the stomach, taken together with immediate strangling of the victim in a fight is not sufficient proof to show an intent to cause abortion. In fact, the accused must have merely intended to kill the victim but not necessarily to cause an abortion. Appellant should be held guilty of the complex crime of parricide with unintentional abortion.

Complex crime of parricide with unintentional abortion

•  A husband who with violence kills his pregnant wife, thus, occasioning the death of the fetus, is guilty of PARRICIDE WITH UNINTENTIONAL ABORTION. 

No intention to cause abortion, no violence, Art. 256 or 257 does not apply, no abortion of any kind. 

The husband gave to his pregnant wife a bitter substance because she was suffering from stomach trouble. The wife suffered an abortion as a result. Husband is not liable because abortion was not intended and it could not be unintentional abortion for there was no violence used.

Can the woman commit unintentional abortion upon herself?

•  The woman herself cannot commit unintentional abortion because it is always committed by STRANGERS. Note that it is required that the violence be voluntary which resulted in the intended abortion. Hence, it is always intentional abortion that the woman commits upon herself. For example: a pregnant woman committed suicide. She did not die but abortion followed. What crime was committed? NONE. There is no Unintentional Abortion because this crime requires physical violence committed by strangers. There is not Intentional Abortion because the woman's act of committing suicide is not intended to commit abortion but to kill her own self. There is no criminal liability under Art. 4 paragraph 1 because she was not committing a felony when she attempted suicide, as suicide is not a felony. 

INTENTIONAL vs. UNINTENTIONAL ABORTION

•  There must be intent to bring about abortion to make it INTENTIONAL ABORTION. If there is no intent to bring about abortion, then it is UNINTENTIONAL ABORTION. A person who subjects a woman to violence is liable for all the consequences thereof. Unintentional abortion is committed if abortion results because of that violence.

•  If the crime is the product of imprudence as when due to negligence, violence is committed against the pregnant woman, it is reckless or simple imprudence resulting to unintentional abortion. 

HOW:         IA - with our without violence
                 UA - with violence (physical)

WHO:         IA - by strangers, by the woman herself or her parents
                 UA - by strangers only

KNOW:       IA - stranger KNOWS of the pregnancy of the woman
                 UA - he may or may not know of the pregnancy

MODALITY:   IA - always DOLO because intent to commit abortion is inherent
 UA - may be dolo or culpa because the unintentional refers to the abortion, not to the violence inflicted by another person which may be intentional violence or culpable violence


References: 

Leonor D. Boado, Notes and Cases on the Revised Penal Code, 2004 ed.
Luis B. Reyes, The Revised Penal Code, Book II, 2001 ed. 

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