Unborn Victims Bill Gets First Hearing
Special Report - March 17, 2011
On Wednesday, the North Carolina Family Policy Council gave testimony to the House Judiciary Subcommittee-B in support of HB 215Unborn Victims of Violence, or “Ethen’s Law.” The bill, which is named for the unborn child of Jenna Nielsen, who was murdered when she was eight-months pregnant in 2007, would provide legal protection and recourse for acts of violence to unborn children, who are injured or die as a result of crimes committed against their pregnant mothers.
After primary bill sponsors Representatives Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth), Mark Hilton (R-Catawba), Edgar Starnes (R-Caldwell), and Fred Steen (R-Rowan) introduced the bill to the committee, members heard from Effie Steele, a Durham County resident who lost both her daughter and unborn grandson to an act of violence. Ms. Steele urged members to “have compassion” by giving families true justice by recognizing both victims of such acts.
Tragically, since 2007, North Carolina has seen at least nine pregnant women and their unborn children murdered. In each of those cases, none of the perpetrators could legally be held accountable for the death of the child. Although the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as “Laci and Connor’s Law,” passed Congress in 2004, the law is only enforceable for crimes committed on federal properties.
In her testimony before the committee, Sara Riggins, policy analyst for the North Carolina Family Policy Council, remarked, “the goal of an Unborn Victims of Violence Act is simple: to provide justice for unborn victims of violence and their families. When a perpetrator commits a violent act against a pregnant woman, this bill provides the legal and the rightful recognition that it is two lives being affected. For those families that have had to suffer the pain and anguish of losing a wife, daughter, niece, or mother, this bill recognizes that they have also suffered the loss of a child, grandchild, or sibling.”
While HB 215 was heard only for the purposes of discussion on Wednesday, it is expected to pass the committee with a favorable report in the upcoming weeks. Then, it will go to the floor of the House, and, if approved, on to the Senate.
If HB 215 becomes law, it would take effect December 1, 2011.
Unborn Victims Bill Introduced - March 4, 2011
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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