by Steven Ertelt
January 11, 2006
Montgomery, AL (LifeNews.com) — An Alabama legislative committee has approved legislation that would make it a second crime to kill or injure an unborn child in the course of an attack against a pregnant woman. The House Judiciary Committee approved two bills on Wednesday.
State Reps. Frank McDaniel, a Democrat, and Spencer Collier, a Republican, both proposed separate bills on the topic and they both received the support of Attorney General Troy King.
According to an Associated Press report, the pair said their bills were inspired by the California case of Laci Peterson. Her husband Scott Peterson was found guilty of killing her and her unborn child Conner and dumping their bodies in San Francisco Bay.
Prosecutors were able to use a similar California law that allows a second crime in such cases to hold Scott Peterson accountable for both deaths. He is appealing the conviction.
A majority of the members of the Alabama House and Senate say they expect to support the bill, according to an AP poll. The survey showed that 75 percent of House members and 69 percent of Senators say they anticipate voting for an unborn victims of violence bill.
Support for the bill has been growing since the July shooting of a 23-year-old woman, Brandy Parker, who was eight months pregnant at the time. No arrests have been made in connection with her death.
Similar legislation passed the House 93-0 in the last session, but never reached the Senate floor.
Thirty-two states have laws that recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as a homicide.
The demise of last year’s legislative effort in Alabama has been blamed on Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham). Smitherman has said he is not opposed to the concept of the bill, but wants additional study in order to determine if it’s a “backdoor” effort to outlaw abortion.
Smitherman told the AP, “I think we have to look at the bill and see how it falls in line with current law as far as the rights that exist for a lady to have a choice. We just want to make sure it does what it says it does.”
Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) said the legislation would be a priority for Republican lawmakers in the upcoming session.
“It’s at the top of our list. It’s obviously an item that’s very important to us. It’s the right thing to do,” Hubbard told the AP.
The Christian Coalition of Alabama is optimistic about the bill’s future.
“It’s a common sense bill that protects the life of unborn children at the hands of a cold-blooded killer,” said John Giles, the organization’s president.