According to US law, when a person approaches a woman who is pregnant in the third trimester, usee a knife and "takes the life of the unborn child" while the woman survives, is this crime a murder or a personal injury to the pregnant woman, or both?

Does anything change depending on the month that the pregnancy had reached?

  • Related: law.stackexchange.com/q/24520/3209
    – DPenner1
    Dec 28, 2017 at 14:54
  • In nearly half of US states, the law applies at all states of gestation. As far as I know, nowhere is the law applicable only from the 7th month.
    – user6726
    Dec 28, 2017 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


Murder is most often prosecuted by the states, not the US government, and each state greatly varies on the subject. Some states consider a fetus to be a person at any stage in its development; some require harsher punishments if the defendant knew the victim was pregnant; and some have no specific mentions of whether a fetus makes any difference in the law. You can see a great breakdown of the various laws and how they are applied to fetuses in this per-state table.

Any federal crimes that are prosecuted by the US federal government are also subject to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act which recognizes a fetus as a victim if it is injured or killed while committing a list of federal crimes.

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