Maryland Pro-Life Unborn Victims of Violence Bill Gets Panel’s Approval
by Steven Ertelt
March 23, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Legislation in Maryland that would hold criminals accountable when they kill or injure an unborn child in the course of an attack on a pregnant women is moving forward. The bill received the approval of a state Senate committee after a hearing last week.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 7-4 to approve the bill, which now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Panel members received a letter from Sharon Rocha, the mother of Laci Peterson — who was killed along with her unborn child two years ago just one month before she was ready to give birth. California law, unlike that of Maryland, allows criminals to be charged with two counts of murder when both mother and child die.
"Laci knew that Conner was her son, and I know it too. Two people, Laci and Conner, would be here with us today if they had not been murdered. There were two victims in this crime, not one," Rocha says.
Three studies over the last two decades — in Maryland, Illinois and New York – indicate that homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women, claiming between 20 percent and 26 percent of the maternal mortality rate in those states.
The bill would cover unborn children throughout pregnancy.
Abortion advocates oppose the bill saying it grants personhood to unborn children under Maryland law, something they contend could be used to overturn legal abortion.
"Any legislative efforts to equate the harm to pregnancy with the harm to a pregnant woman should be viewed as an overt attempt to undermine the Roe v. Wade decision and should be rejected," said a flier from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, according to the Baltimore Sun newspaper.
"This is a very good tool if a man abuses his wife and causes the death of her child, that’s how I see it," said Sen. Nancy Jacobs, the Sun reported.
The U.S. Senate will debate a federal version of the bill this week.