Montana Pro-Life Gubernatorial Candidate Calls for Unborn Victims Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Montana Pro-Life Gubernatorial Candidate Calls for Unborn Victims Bill

by Paul Nowak Staff Writer
March 10, 2004

Helena, MT ( — Montana’s Secretary of State, and leading Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bob Brown, called upon the state legislature to pass an Unborn Victims of Violence act similar to laws enacted in most other states.

The legislation would protect pregnant women and their unborn children by allowing prosecutors to file additional charges against criminals who attack pregnant women and, as a result, kill or injure their unborn children.

"Pregnant women who are victims of violence want to know that the criminals who attacked them and killed or injured their unborn children will go to jail for a long, long time," Brown said.

According to the National Right to Life Committee, 29 states have similar laws, including 16 that offer women and their unborn children protection throughout the entire pregnancy.

Montana has no such law, a fact that Brown wants to remedy.

"It’s a travesty of justice that pregnant women in our state aren’t properly protected," Brown explained. "As Governor, I will promote legislation that makes sure every Montana woman receives the legal protection she deserves during her pregnancy."

A spokesman for Brian Schweitzer, the leading Democratic candidate in the Montana gubernatorial race, told the campaign had no comment on the issue.

Schweitzer opposed a ban on partial-birth abortions and had the endorsements of pro-abortion organizations, such as NARAL, during his attempt to unseat pro-life U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns (R) in 2000.

State legislators have twice attempted to pass an unborn victims bill. The legislation failed each time after being sent to a committee where pro-abortion Republicans joined Democrats in defeating it.

Abortion advocates in Montana attacked the bill saying it would make abortions illegal, prevent doctors from treating pregnant women, and claiming it would make a woman’s miscarriage subject to investigation.

However, the legislation has a specific abortion exemption and has not prohibited abortions in any of the states that have such laws. In over a dozen cases nationwide, an Unborn Victims of Violence law has never been successfully challenged in court.

"This is not an abortion debate," Brown added. "All this law does is make sure criminals can’t kill or injure a woman’s baby while she is pregnant and not be held responsible. No Montana woman should be assaulted and suffer the loss of her child only to see the attacker get out of jail a short time later on minor charges."

In the Republican primary, Brown faces businessman Pat Davison, and former state Senators Ken Miller and Tom Keating. All three are pro-life and Keating and Miller also compiled pro-life voting records during their tenure in the state legislature.

Both Miller and Schweitzer running mate John Bohlinger, a Republican state senator, voted for a motion in 2001 seeking to bring the unborn victims bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where panel members had defeated the legislation.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to pass the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act with a strongly bipartisan 254-163 vote. Brown encouraged the U.S. Senate approve the bill soon.

The deaths of Laci and Conner Peterson prompted Congress to renew its efforts to pass the legislation. The bill 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 case that received national attention.

Scott Peterson is currently on trial for Laci’s death, and prosecutors are using California’s unborn victims law to add additional charges in the death of Conner Peterson.

Related Sites:

State Unborn Victims Laws –
Court Decisions on Unborn Victims Laws –
Bob Brown for Governor –
Brian Schweitzer for Governor –