Kentucky Pro-Lifers Hope Unborn Victims Bill Will Pass Next Year

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 30, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kentucky Pro-Lifers Hope Unborn Victims Bill Will Pass Next Year

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
September 30, 2003

Frankfort, KY ( — Pro-life advocates in Kentucky have had a difficult time getting the state legislature to pass a law prosecuting those who kill or injure an unborn child, despite tragic personal stories that have drawn statewide attention.

Rep. Stan Lee (R-Lexington) says he will propose an unborn victims of violence bill in the next legislative session that he hopes will finally get the approval it needs.

Although Lee has been unable to get the Kentucky General Assembly to pass such a law in the past, recent cases, such as a June highway accident in which Charmaine Holbrook lost her unborn child, may give the HB29 a better chance.

Holbrook survived the accident but her unborn baby was delivered stillborn.

When she learned the 18 year-old driver who crashed into her wouldn’t be held criminally accountable for the death of her baby, "I was devastated. I was shocked. I felt robbed," Holbrook told the Associated Press.

Last week, she appeared with Lee at a press conference to urge state legislators to support the pro-life legislation.

“In unspeakable cases such as Charmaine Holbrook’s nearly-born child, everyone recognizes the extreme injustice of not having legal protection and recognition of the unborn child,” Mike Janocik, Associate Director of KY Right to Life, told “The Kentucky Legislature should pass legislation protecting the unborn child from the homicidal acts of others. It is just common sense.”

The bill is also being referred to as the Caleb-Haley Act, named for two other unborn children who died in highway accidents.

While Kentucky law does not currently allow for criminal charges in the death of an unborn child, parents may file a civil suit for wrongful death. Rep. Lee has called the system “patently inconsistent” by allowing civil suits but not criminal charges.

The ACLU has been outspoken in its objection to the bill. It and pro-abortion groups believe unborn victims bills are an attempt to give unborn children special rights under law and restrict abortion.

Pro-abortion groups favor a "one-victim" approach to unborn victims laws, which allows prosecutors to increase the penalties for crimes against pregnant women.

Beth Wilson, executive director of the ACLU of Kentucky, said her group supports an alternative that punishes criminals for violence against pregnant women but doesn’t regard the unborn child as a victim.

Pro-life groups oppose such pro-abortion alternatives saying such bills tell unborn children who are injured but not killed that they were never victims — even if the injuries leave lasting physical or mental disabilities.

"The need for fetal protections is now acutely and clearly apparent and there is widespread public support due to the high-profile case of Lacy and Conner Peterson," Janocik explained. "We are confident that the Kentucky Legislature will pass fetal homicide legislation next session."

According to the National Right to Life Committee, 28 states have unborn victims laws, including 15 that cover mothers and their unborn children throughout pregnancy.

Related web sites:
Kentucky Right to Life –