Kentucky Legislature Sends Pro-Life Unborn Victims Bill to Governor
by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
February 19, 2004
Frankfort, KY (LifeNews.com) — The state Senate passed a bill making it a crime to kill and unborn child in a violent act Wednesday, after similar legislation had been stalled in House committees for years. Governor Ernie Fletcher, who endorsed the legislation, is expected to sign it soon, and due to its emergency clause the law will become effective immediately when signed.
"We have a governor downstairs with pen in hand waiting to protect the unborn," Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville) told senators, who voted 33-4 to pass HB 108.
Sen. Katie Stine (R-Fort Thomas) abstained from voting, because she felt she had already voted “for what I believed was the best bill," SB 4, which defined "person" in the law as "an unborn child from fertilization onward." HB 108 is a compromise bill that does not make that distinction, but still creates a crime of “fetal homicide” applicable throughout pregnancy.
"We’ve been struggling for 20 years to find language that everybody can live with," Rep. Bob Damron (D-Nicholasville), the sponsor of the bill, said in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Recent cases, including the January shooting death of 18-year-old Ashley Renee Lyons who was 5 months pregnant, may have prompted the House to finally pass one of the three Unborn Victims of Violence bills this session. Rep. Damron did say that her case prompted the inclusion of an emergency clause.
Sen. David Karen (D-Louisville) voted against the bill, saying it is unenforceable because it could open the door into investigations of miscarriages. Lawmakers said that wasn’t the because because the death of the unborn child must result from an act of violence against a pregnant woman.
However, 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 – none of those laws has ever been successfully challenged in Court.
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote again on the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act next week, which the House has approved twice before. The Senate will likely vote soon after.
The federal legislation, as well as several similar state bills, has been endorsed by Sharon Rocha, mother of Laci Peterson and grandmother of her unborn child Conner, whose bodies washed up on the California coast last year in a murder investigation that received national attention.
Related web sites:
Kentucky Right to Life – https://www.krla.org
State Unborn Victims Laws Challenges – https://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/statechallenges.html