by Steven Ertelt
February 9, 2006
Denver, CO (LifeNews.com) — A Colorado lawmaker has proposed legislation that would protect pregnant women and their unborn children from acts of violence. The law would allow prosecutors to charge criminals with an additional crime when they assault a pregnant women and kill or injure her unborn child.
Rep. Dave Schultheis, a Colorado Springs Republican, said 21 other states have similar laws, and President Bush signed a national version of the law.
Schultheis told the Rocky Mountain News that his bill is intended to target situations like what happened to Laci and Conner Peterson. Laci was murder when she was eight months pregnant with Conner and husband Scott Peterson was convicted of the killings and dumping their bodies into San Francisco Bay.
The measure is scheduled for a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday afternoon, but a leading Colorado abortion practitioner opposes the bill.
Warren Hern of Boulder, one of the few late-term abortion practitioners in the country, claims HB 128 has numerous problems, including his belief that it is "unreasonable" and "unconstitutional."
However, similar laws in other states have never been overturned when challenged in court.
Hern also claimed the bill would subject abortion practitioners to prosecution, even though the bill does not apply to an abortion.
"Hern doesn’t know what he’s talking about," Schultheis told the Rocky Mountain News. "This isn’t about abortion. It can’t make abortion a crime because federal law allows for abortions."
In October 2003, Colorado prosecutors were upset that they could not charge a man in the death of an unborn child because the state has no law that allows prosecutors to hold him responsible.
Daniel Self, 46, was charged with killing a pregnant woman but couldn’t be charged in the death of her unborn son. At a Thursday hearing, District Judge Gil Martinez dismissed a charge of child abuse resulting in death.
Leah Gee, Self’s girlfriend, died two days after she was shot and her son was delivered by doctors via Caesarian section. He died two weeks later form complications.
At a preliminary hearing, specialists testified that Gee’s head wound directly caused her baby’s death. The boy suffered brain injuries as a result of Gee having a low level of oxygen for a long period of time.
Under state law on homicides, a person is defined as someone who is born and is alive at the time the homicide occurs. Schultheis’ bill would change that to include babies before birth.
"Jeremiah was not born at the time of the homicidal act," Martinez said.