Kentucky Senate Committee Approves Unborn Victims Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 18, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kentucky Senate Committee Approves Unborn Victims Bill

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
January 18, 2004

Frankfort, KY ( — After the emotional testimony of the parents of a pregnant mother who was found shot to death last week, the Kentucky Senate Judiciary Committee approved a pro-life bill allowing for the prosecution in the death of an unborn child.

Ashley Lyons, 18, was 22 weeks pregnant when her body was found in her car January 7 at a local park. Her family had learned of her pregnancy and watched a video of her ultrasound just hours before she was found.

"I saw the baby’s heart beat," Carol Lyons said, as she testified alongside her husband Buford. "I saw all of his little legs, fingers and toes."

Police are investigating the suspected homicide, but no one has yet been charged.

Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Richard Roeding (R-Lakeside Park), would allow for charges to be filed for the death of a mother and her unborn child, from the moment of conception. The bill cleared the committee after a 8-1 vote. The bill will now go to the Senate for consideration. The Senate has passed similar bills before, but the true test for such legislation in Kentucky is found in the House.

Rep. Stan Lee (D-Lexington) is the sponsor of House Bill 3, a companion bill to Sen. Roeding’s, and it has already earned the endorsement of Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson’s mother. The bill has come to be known as the "Caleb-Haley Act" in memory of two other unborn children that died as a result of crimes. The Caleb-Haley act is also being supported by Kentucky Right to Life, the Catholic Conference of Kentucky and the state chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The lone no vote came from Sen. Ernesto Scorsone (D-Lexington), who repeated concerns of abortion advocates. Despite the fact that the bill doesn’t target abortion, Sen. Scorsone said such a bill, protecting the child from conception, is a "thinly veiled effort to redefine life."

Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville), also a committee member, disagreed with Sen. Scorsone’s view of the bill.

"There’s no reason to protect a criminal regardless of what you believe on when life begins," Sen. Williams said. "What this bill does is give protection to a fetus or an unborn child. Why is that entity not worthy of protection?"

Amanda Kreps-Long, director of the Reproductive Freedom Project for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, was present at the hearing but did not speak. She later commented that the ACLU believes that defining life from conception is a problem.

"These stories are so terrible — it’s a loss I can’t even begin to imagine," said Kreps-Long, who is eight months pregnant herself. "But it’s really frustrating. There is another way to address the issue."

Another unborn victims bill, HB 108, was proposed by a mostly Democrat sponsorship, but that bill only would allow for charges on "viable" unborn children, or those that are considered to be able live outside the womb. Rep. Lee called the viability standard "nebulous" in an interview with, and said the bill reflected the thinking of pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood.

"I feel like there is no line you can draw," Lyons said. "Life is from conception. … I felt that baby move inside of her. I saw it move."

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.

Buford Lyons said he and his wife will devote themselves to getting the legislation passed in the memory of their daughter and grandson.

"We lost them both," he said. "Our whole family was cheated."

Related Sites:

Kentucky Right to Life –
Caleb-Haley Bill Website –
Listing of State Unborn Victim Laws –