Intrauterine Gunshot Wounds

Gunshot wounds of the pregnant uterus are relatively uncommon.14 Maternal death in such cases is rare. The gunshot injury to the fetus or placenta usually results in intrauterine death or premature delivery with or without evidence of injury to the child.

The most significant question arising from fetal deaths due to gunshot wounds of the pregnant uterus concerns the ruling of the manner of death.15 If the child dies in utero, no matter how advanced the state of development, there is no criminal culpability for the child's death attached to the person who did the shooting. Legally the child is not considered an individual until it is born alive. If, however, the child is born alive and then dies, even if the time of survival is a matter of only a few minutes, the death is considered a homicide, even if the bullet did not strike the child but just induced premature labor. In the latter case, one could rule the cause of death as "Prematurity secondary to gunshot wound of uterus — Homicide."

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