Kentucky State Senate Approves Pro-Life Unborn Victims Bill
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
January 27, 2004
Frankfort, KY (LifeNews.com) — A bill making it a crime to harm or kill an unborn child during an attack on a pregnant woman passed the Kentucky State Senate 31-6 Thursday. The bill now moves to the state House, where two similar bills have been proposed — and where many predecessors have failed.
"We’re moving in the right direction," said Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville), a strong supporter of Senate Bill 4. "The idea is to create a crime of fetal homicide by interrupting, through a criminal act, a pregnancy."
In the house, two competing bills are being considered – the first, HB 108, was proposed by Rep. Bob Damron (D-Nicholasville), but that bill only would allow for charges on "viable" unborn children, or those that are considered to be able live outside the womb.
Pro-life groups oppose that bill because they say women and unborn children should be protected throughout pregnancy.
Rep. Stan Lee (D-Lexington) is the sponsor of House Bill 3, a companion bill to Senate Bill 4, and it has already earned the endorsement of pro-life 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.
Rep. Lee called the viability standard used in Rep. Damron’s bill "nebulous" in an interview with LifeNews.com, and said the bill reflected the thinking of pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood.
Rep. Damron told the Kentucky Courier-Journal that he was revising his bill to be more similar to the other two and charge for a separate crime from the moment of conception, although Rep. Lee told LifeNews.com that he has not seen a revision, and has "little reason to believe anything," given a history of difficulties in getting an unborn victims bill through the House. Rep. Lee has been outspoken in calling Damron’s bill a "second-best" unborn victims bill and a "pro-abortion bill."
"I want something that’s going to pass," said Rep. Damron. "I’ve negotiated the best possible compromise I can."
Damron’s bill has the support of the House leadership, and it appears it will be considered in lieu of Rep. Lee’s version.
The Rev. Patrick Delahanty, deputy director of the Catholic Conference, has said his organization would endorse Damron’s proposed revision because it "recognizes the sanctity of human life" and does not include the death penalty, as the Senate version of the bill would.
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.
"This bill is not about abortion rights," Sen. Williams said. "It’s about whether a fetus — a baby boy or a baby girl — is worthy of our protection."
Related web sites:
Kentucky Right to Life – https://www.krtl.org
Caleb-Haley Bill Website – https://www.caleb-haley.com
Listing of State Unborn Victim Laws – https://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/Statehomicidelaws092302.htm