by Steven Ertelt
June 28, 2005
Charleston, WV (LifeNews.com) — A new law that protects pregnant women and their unborn children goes into effect in West Virginia on Friday. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act allows local prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes when they assault a pregnant woman and kill or injure her baby.
The measure is also known as Christy and Ashley’s Law, named for Christy Alberts, who was nine months pregnant when she was shot execution style, killing both her and her unborn daughter whom she had already named Ashley Nicole.
Alberts’ family was devastated to learn that the killer would not be held accountable for the death of their granddaughter.
More recently, a Beckley, West Virginia man was charged in the April assault of his pregnant girlfriend. Christopher J. Simmons reportedly struck her in the stomach several times, killing their unborn child. Simmons faces only two to ten years in prison for the attack and death of his girlfriend’s child.
"Had this alleged assault taken place after July 1, Mr. Simmons could have been charged with murder and faced a much stiffer sentence," said Karen Cross, director of West Virginians for Life. "How sad that this girl has to live with the fact that no one will be charged in the death of her baby."
Gov. Joe Manchin signed the bill into law shortly after the state House approved it on an overwhelmingly bipartisan 81-17 margin. Former Gov. Bob Wise vetoed a 2004 version.
West Virginia will become one of thirty-three states that recognize second crimes against unborn children when their mother is attacked.
President Bush also signed into law a bill that recognizes both mother and child as a victim when federal crimes are committed or when a crime against a pregnant woman happens on federal lands like national parks or Indian reservations.
"Fortunately, beginning Friday, any criminal who injures or kills an unborn child during a crime will be held legally responsible for criminal acts against the unborn child," said Melissa Adkins, legislative coordinator for the statewide pro-life group.
Related web sites:
West Virginians for Life – https://www.wvforlife.org