Fetal homicide bill to get first hearing

Posted March 16, 2011

— A bill that would punish people who harm a fetus at any stage of development gets its first hearing in the North Carolina General Assembly Wednesday.

A House judiciary committee holds hearings Wednesday on House Bill 215, which would make it a felony for an attacker to kill or injure a fetus at any stage of development, whether or not anyone knew about the pregnancy.

The legislation makes clear that it doesn't apply to legal abortions, but critics say the bill could give legal status to forming fetuses who are unable to survive outside their mother's womb.

The measure would replace an existing state law that makes injury to a woman that results in a miscarriage or stillbirth an aggravating factor. That can increase the penalty for a felony.

State law does not recognize the death of a fetus or unborn child as a result of a violent crime as a homicide or separate crime.

The bill is entitled the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" or "Ethen's Law" after the unborn son of Jenna Nielsen, who was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed to death outside a Raleigh convenience store in June 2007. Her relatives have lobbied state lawmakers for a fetal homicide law.


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  • aydensmom1106 Mar 16, 2011

    So it's not ok for someone to beat a pregnant woman and kill her unborn baby (yes I know the politically correct word is fetus but once the "fetus" has a heartbeat then it should be called a baby) but it is ok for a woman to abort her unborn baby?!?! I don't get this...killing an unborn baby should be against the law PERIOD!!!

  • Way Right Mar 16, 2011

    This is so nuts a stranger kills your baby they go to jail, you kill your baby it is your right to have an abortion. Open your eyes if the baby is dead it is dead no matter who did it.

  • Unknown Caller Mar 16, 2011

    You folks amaze me. This just goes to show how quickly people can put away common sense and climb on board their political soap boxes. I know the people affected by this personally. This is not a means to change the laws governing a woman's right to choose. This is about the cold blooded murder of an innocent woman and her unborn child. Ethan was only a few weeks away from being born into a loving family. He was fully developed and capable of surviving on his own. The worthless individual who stopped these two lives short, when caught, can only be tried for the death of Jenna. The same holds true in the death of Maria Lauterbach. Cesar Laurean was convicted for her death and not the death of her unborn child. Step away from your political ideologies for one minute and use a little common sense here. Don't let the deaths of these children continue to go unanswered. Let this bill be the justice for these children.

  • freedomrings Mar 16, 2011

    I hope it passes.

  • wildcat Mar 16, 2011

    language allowing it to be used against legal abortion, we should pass it.

    It will not passing. Praying that it will not.

  • wildcat Mar 16, 2011

    support the death penalty?

    Life in prison without parole is much better than death penaly. Too many innocent people have been sent to prison. You cannot bring the dead back.

  • Warden Mar 16, 2011

    I'm for the bill passing in the case of a homicide of a pregnant woman being counted as two. That being said, I'm sorry, but I've got no right telling a lady what she can and can't do with her body. I think these are two separate issues, and unless this bill adds language allowing it to be used against legal abortion, we should pass it.

  • itsmyownopinion Mar 16, 2011

    I'm in favor of this law being passed.

  • sunneyone Mar 16, 2011

    What was wrong with my comment WRAL? I'm seriously asking a question about whether pro-life means ALL life or just selective life! So do people who call themselves "pro-life" support the death penalty? It's a valid question.

  • Sunne Mar 16, 2011

    If a woman is pregnant and intends to carry her baby full term, then it's a life. Plus this woman was not a few months pregnant; she was close to term. Whether or not women decides to abort a pregnancy or when "life" begins has nothing to do with this situation.