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Fetal homicide bill sent to governor's desk

Posted April 20, 2011

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— The state House of Representatives gave final approval to a proposed law that makes it a felony to kill or injure a fetus at any stage or development.

The state House voted 77-40 on Tuesday, with several Democrats joining Republicans, to send House Bill 215: "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" to Gov. Beverly Perdue, whose signature makes it law.

The legislation would find anyone who commits murder, manslaughter or assault against a pregnant woman guilty of the same crimes against the fetus, regardless of whether an attacker knows about the pregnancy.

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 existing law recognizes injury to a woman that results in a miscarriage or stillbirth as an aggravating factor that can increase the penalty.

Supporters of the bill say it puts North Carolina in step with 35 states and the federal government that recognize an unborn child at any stage of development as an additional victim. Nearly two dozen states say crimes against the fetus can come at any time after conception. 

The bill includes a provision that states it doesn't apply to legal abortions in response to criticism of past versions of the legislation.

The bill is also called "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.

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  • Your Reality Check Bounced Apr 21, 2011

    Wait-- you're wishing for women who disagree with you to be raped, and then calling the other side of this debate "cold and callous"?

    So, you wishing for women to be raped is... what? Warm and kind-hearted?

    Politely, I'd call it cold and callous. Speaking frankly, I'd call it just plain evil.

  • kinggartk Apr 21, 2011

    Bigal02282....I was responding to some folks who made comments comparing this to abortion.

    In my opinion, the bill should also cover abortion. I was stating my opinion that the bill doesn't go far enough.

  • bigal02282 Apr 20, 2011

    @kinggartk
    As the bill has absolutely nothing to do with abortion, why bring it up at all? Violent or non-violent, abortions were purposefully left out of this bill. And I'm guessing it is because so many have such strong opinions on it.

  • PurlsOfWisdom Apr 20, 2011

    Just a few questions, since you brought it up.

    Would a pregnant woman who abuses drugs (or conumes too much chocolate or coffee or both, for that matter) be arrested for endangering the life of a fetus? And would a pharmaceutical manufacturer that skipped a few quality control steps to rush a drug on the market that then harmed a fetus be hauled off to jail (or at least its CEO), since companies are "people" too now? Or would this come under the "Business Immunity Statute" that the GOP will implement in its cow-towing to corporate power?

    And because many pregnant women aren't aware of their pregnancy until after a very fragile first couple of weeks -- remember, the law states a fetus at any point in its development -- would some of our more paternalistic legislators be inclined write laws that put all women in a cocoon of legal protections(no working, no playing, no nothing) to protect the potential fetus?

    Exactly where would this GOP action stop? And how does this fit the smaller g

  • gingerlynn Apr 20, 2011

    Does anyone know if the gov will sign or veto?

  • Jim Britt Apr 20, 2011

    All this does is convey rights to a fetus; step one in taking away a woman's right to keep government out of her uterus. I'm curious, now that the legislature says a fetus has rights, can a homosexual fetus marry anyone it chooses or is the government going to inject itself into that choice as well? Also, can I get a tax exemption as soon as I get a fetus or do I still have to wait until it's a living, breathing human? And lastly, does this mean they are going to give Ethen's mom's killer two lethal injections? How much retribution can you get?

  • kinggartk Apr 20, 2011

    This bill is a good thing as many have stated below, ut, it doesn't go far enough.

    The rationale you folks are giving for this is it covers an act of violence vs. abortion being a consented action.

    Sure a Mother might consent to an abortion because "its an incovenience" or some other hogwash I have heard used as an excuse. But I have never heard of a case where that unborn baby gave his or her consent to have his or her limbs ripped from his body so "my mommy won't be inconvenienced".

    And...for the record, abortion is an act of violence. Don't beleive me? See one in action. See it from the baby's vantage point...then tell me it is not a violent act.

  • west3205 Apr 20, 2011

    The legislation would find anyone who commits murder, manslaughter or assault against a pregnant woman guilty of the same crimes against the fetus, regardless of whether an attacker knows about the pregnancy.

    A passer by bumps into a woman walking down the side walk. She falls and feels something is wrong. After being rushed to the hospital she is told that the fetus has died. Is that an accident or assault?

  • Chemmie Apr 20, 2011

    I was also "informed" that since I was on medication at the time of conception that my child may be born with serious complications. Despite what the masses said, abortion was never an option for me. My daughter is 4 now, perfectly healthy, extremely smart and beautiful. The BEST decision I ever made. However, this article is NOT about abortion...it's about murder. This law makes perfect sense to me and I hope it is strictly enforced once it passes.

  • autismawareness Apr 20, 2011

    should not even need to be law b/c person should be put to death for killing mother; second sentence wouldnt matter.

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