Unborn Twins Killed in Maryland Attack, Case Prompts New Legislation

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Unborn Twins Killed in Maryland Attack, Case Prompts New Legislation

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 1, 2004

Hagerstown, MD (LifeNews.com) — A young mother who was five months pregnant lost her twin unborn children after a violent assault against her. The attacks have one local prosecutor speaking out in favor of legislation sponsored by pro-life state legislators to hold criminals accountable when they kill unborn children.

Margaret Hammer, 19, was assaulted and robbed by two men at knifepoint on December 13 while she was walking to Hagerstown Community College.

The men kicked Hammer, a resident of Mont Alto, Pennsylvania, several times in the stomach while she was laying on the ground. She was taken that night to Washington County Hospital and eventually to Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center.

However, both unborn children died days later as a result of the beating.

Authorities have no suspects in the case and they are asking for help from the public to obtain leads.

Maryland doesn’t have an unborn victims law, so the attackers can only be charged with assault against the woman if they are apprehended.

Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott Rolle says it is "horrendous" that Maryland has no laws allowing prosecutors to charge criminals will killing or injuring unborn children in the course of an attack against a pregnant woman.

The case has prompted Del. William Frank, R-Baltimore Count to put forward legislation that would help Maryland join over two dozen states that focus on violence against pregnant women.

"This bill is not about the abortion debate," Frank told the Herald-Mail newspaper. "We’re trying to focus on preventing violence against women … and their unborn children."

The bill would modify the existing law that covers murder, assault, manslaughter and other attacks against pregnant women by inserting language that includes unborn children. Frank said the bill would cover the unborn child from the beginning of a pregnancy.

Frank also said he was encouraged to file the bill by the death of Laci and Conner Peterson in California. Peterson was eight months pregnant when she was discovered missing. Authorities later found their bodies washed up on the shores of San Francisco Bay.

That state has a law allowing prosecutors to charge Scott Peterson in the death of Conner, and he has pleaded innocent.

Laci’s family has endorsed similar legislation in Congress, that also enjoys the backing of pro-life groups.

According to a 2001 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 20 percent of Maryland women who died during pregnancy were murdered, the leading cause of death.

The National Right to Life Committee reports that 15 states have laws declaring unborn children as victims of assault throughout pregnant while 13 states provide partial protection for unborn children, usually after viability.

Sgt. Mark Knight, the Sheriff’s Department criminal investigations division commander, said the investigation into the attack against Hammer is being hampered by a lack of details, suspects or witnesses.

Anyone with information on the attack is asked to call Corporal Roy Harsh at 240-313-2183.