‘Unborn babies now have legal remedies’

Drivers whose actions would lead to the death of an unborn child would now be subjected to a prison term not less than three years and not more than seven years, if found liable.

The sanction is separate from the punishment which might be meted out to the offender for the death or injury caused to the expectant mother in the same accident.

The introduction of sterner punishment for road traffic offenders, follows the passage of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2020 into law, by parliament on Friday.

The new law replaces the Road Traffic Act, 2004 (Act 683) which was subsequently amended by the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act, 2008 (Act 761) which provides for the protection of children, but silent on legal remedies for an unborn baby.

The amendment was championed by four Members of Parliament under the Private Members bill initiative approved in July this year making the new Act the first private members law in the fourth republican dispensation.  

The proponents are Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah–Bonsu, MP, Suame, Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, MP, Tamale South, Chairman of Parliament’s Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee and MP for Offinso South, Ben Abdallah, and outgoing Kumbungu MP, Ras Mubarak.

A memorandum to Parliament by the proponents of the law noted that many women have lost their pregnancies in road crashes without any form of compensations.

“Also, Act 683 does not impose a duty on a driver of a motor vehicle to report the death of an unborn child on the occurrence of a road traffic crash and it is impossible to charge an accused person for the death of an unborn child.

“In order to protect posterity, particularly in the case of road transport, the bill seeks to amend the Road Traffic Act, 2004 (Act 683) to ensure that the law recognises the loss of an unborn child as a separate and distinct loss and not only an injury suffered by a pregnant woman,” the proponents observed in the memorandum seen by the Ghanaian Times.

The Bill amends Section 1 of Act 683 to prohibit a driver of a vehicle from driving dangerously and by this, a driver found guilty commits an offence if his actions and inactions on the road results in the death of a person including an unborn child. 

Clause 3 of the amended Act imposes a duty on a driver of a vehicle to report to a Police station on the occurrence of an accident that results in the death of an unborn child as soon as possible.

Urging his colleagues to pass the bill, Ras Mubarak said “The intention is to impose a burden on drivers when they are driving. It is to impose a burden on motor riders when they are riding.”

He said “this will allow for MPs in the 8th parliament to propose more bills to tighten loopholes in our laws.”


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