Families of Unborn Victims of Violence Head to DC to Back Pro-Life Bill
by Steven Ertelt
March 20, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The families of young women and their unborn children who were victimized by senseless violence are making their way to the nation’s capital to rally support for legislation that would make sure criminals are held accountable when they attack a pregnant woman and killed or injure her baby.
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act has been nicknamed Laci and Conner’s bill in honor of Laci and Conner Peterson, who died more than a year ago. Their bodies were discovered washed up in San Francisco’s harbor and Laci’s husband Scott is currently in trial and charged with two counts of homicide related to their deaths.
But such acts of violence occur on a near-daily basis in many other less-publicized cases.
Carol and Buford Lyons of Kentucky hope members of the Senate will agree to the House-passed bill. Their 18 year-old daughter Ashley and unborn grandson Landon were murdered in January.
Ashley discovered in September that she was pregnant and was so excited she began keeping a journal of letters and notes to her unborn son. Abortion was never an option.
"You are the child I have always dreamed about," she wrote in October. "I know that it will be a long time before I meet you but I can’t wait to hold you for the first time. I love you more every day. Always, Mommy."
When an ultrasound was performed on her, Ashley received a copy of it and couldn’t wait to show her family.
"She said, ‘Mom, come watch the ultrasound movie,’" Carol Lyons said in describing her daughter’s excitement. "I saw the baby’s heartbeat. I saw all of his little parts — all of his little legs, fingers, toes. . . . She pointed out every part of that baby to me. And the whole time the baby’s heart was just beating."
But only hours after they watched the video, Ashley was shot and both she and Landon died as a result.
The killer has yet to be apprehended, but when authorities catch up to him, he won’t be charged with killing Landon because Kentucky did not have a similar unborn victims law on the books.
Thankfully, Governor Ernie Fletcher recently signed an unborn victims bill into law — offering justice for future families victimized by such violence. The legislation was drafted in part because of Ashley and Landon’s death.
Though abortion advocates, led by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) will put forward an alternative bill saying there is only one victim in such cases, the Lyons family knows better.
"Nobody can tell me that there were not two victims — I placed Landon in his mother’s arms, wrapped in a baby blanket that I had sewn for him, just before I kissed my daughter goodbye for the last time and closed the casket," Carol. Lyons said.
Meanwhile, just over a year ago, Heather Sargent was killed when her husband stabbed her dozens of times. Sargent was eight months pregnant and both she and her son Jonah died as a result.
Like Kentucky, Maine had no unborn victims law at the time Heather was killed and her husband will only face charges resulting from her death.
Yet, in a cruel twist of fate, police found several dead cats at the Sargent’s home. In his rage, Sargent’s husband had killed them too. Ironically, under state law, Sargent can be imprisoned for as much as one year for each of the cats he killed, but, can’t be held liable for the death of a baby just a short time away from birth.
Cynthia Warner, Heather’s mother, also supports the Unborn Victims bill and wants the world to know that such crimes have two victims.
As the lives of more and more families are touched by violence against pregnant women, they stepping forward in greater numbers to support laws to protect them and their children.
"In increasing numbers, members of families who have lost loved ones — born and unborn — are speaking out in favor of state and federal fetal homicide legislation," explains Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee and a leading monitor of the phenomenon of violence against pregnant women.
"The Senate will face a clear choice," Johnson explains. They will "choose between a bill that will recognize the loss of an unborn child as the death of a member of the human family, and a competing bill that would codify the doctrine that an unborn child can never be the victim…"
For families of the victims, they already know the answer.
Related web sites:
More on Ashley and Landon Lyons – https://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_Victims/Remembertheirnames.html
National Right to Life info on fetal homicide legislation – https://www.nrlc.org/Unborn_victims/index.html