Unborn Victims Bill Introduced
Special Report - March 4, 2011
Pro-life lawmakers have filed a bill to add North Carolina to the list of 35 other states that afford protection from acts of violence to unborn children, who are injured or die as a result of crimes committed against their pregnant mothers. HB 215Unborn Victims of Violence/Ethen’s Law, sponsored by Representatives Dale Folwell (RForsyth), Mark Hilton (RCatawba), Edgar Starnes (RCaldwell), Fred Steen (RRowan), and 30 other members of the House, would recognize two victims in acts of violence against pregnant women in North Carolina. Murder of an unborn child would carry a penalty of life in prison without parole. Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child, serious bodily harm, and assault, battery or affray against an unborn child would all carry felony level penalties. Serious bodily injury is defined in the bill as: “injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious permanent disfigurement, coma, a permanent or protracted condition that causes extreme pain, or permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or that results in prolonged hospitalization, or causes the birth of the unborn child prior to 37 weeks gestation, if the child weights 2,500 grams or less at the time of birth.” The bill specifically exempts abortions, medical accidents, and natural miscarriage or stillbirth. If passed, HB 215 would go into effect on December 1, 2011.
The issue of violence against pregnant women in North Carolina has received heightened attention in recent years in light of a spree of high-profile murders of women who were eight and nine months pregnant. Since 2007, at least nine pregnant women and their unborn children have been murdered in North Carolina without any of the perpetrators being held accountable for the death of the child. Interestingly, had any of these crimes been committed in those areas of North Carolina that fall under the purview of federal law, including the state’s many military bases and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the perpetrators could have been charged for two murders under the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as “Laci and Connor’s Law, “ which was passed by Congress in 2004. HB 215’s title, “Ethen’s Law,” is named after the unborn son of Jenna Neilsen, who was violently murdered in Raleigh in June 2007 when she was eight months’ pregnant with a baby boy.
"The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is one bill in a long list of common sense pro-family measures that have not been voted on by the General Assembly in recent years,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “It is a tragedy that women and children murdered on federal lands in our state receive more justice under the law than they do on state-owned land. We are hopeful that things will be different this session. We commend the many pro-life members of the General Assembly for their continued fight to pass this important bill."
Parents Call for Fetal Murder Law - May 8, 2009
Another Pregnant Soldier Dies in North Carolina - June 25, 2008
Maryland Fetal Homicide Act Brings First Conviction - April 3, 2008
Murder Shows Need for Fetal Homicide Law - January 28, 2008
Fetal Murder Laws Questioned Following Mother's Death - June 26, 2007
How to Achieve Justice for All in North Carolina - FNC - Winter 2011
Protecting the Unborn - FNC - Mar/Apr 2008
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