by Steven Ertelt
March 9, 2006
Montgomery, AL (LifeNews.com) — A bill that would offer justice for pregnant women and their unborn children who are victims of violent assaults is being held up by a state Senate committee chairman. State Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Democrat from Birmingham, says he doesn’t know if or when the House-approved measure will get a vote.
Smitherman’s comments came after a public hearing on Wednesday in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the bill and drew criticism from Roger Parker.
Parker is the father of Brandy Parker, who was murdered last July in Albertville when she was eight months pregnant. Prosecutors could not hold the assailant responsible for the death of the baby, Parker’s grandchild, because the state did not have an unborn victims law.
"Mr. Smitherman just refuses to put it on an agenda for a vote," Parker told the Huntsville Times newspaper.
With his daughter and grandson’s death and a 97-0 vote in the House, Parker told the Times he thought that would be enough to move it through the Senate.
"I thought that would be enough to push it through, but that’s not the case," he said.
Smitherman is accused to kowtowing to the pro-abortion agenda and giving in to concerns abortion advocates presented in committee that the bill would undermine abortion rights, even though that hasn’t been the case in any of the dozens of states with similar laws.
Twenty states allow criminals to be prosecuted for killing an unborn child at any time during pregnancy and another 12 allow prosecution in later stages of pregnancy.
A similar bill passed through the Alabama state House last year and died in the same Senate committee thanks to Smitherman.
The Parker family has campaigned strongly for this year’s measure, named the Brody bill after Parker’s either-month old unborn grandson.
According to the Times, Parker introduced himself in committee as Brody’s grandfather and pleaded with committee members to approve the measure.
"The answer I don’t want to hear is that you’re studying it," Parker said. "Please, please, I beg this committee to do the right thing."
"I doubt very seriously that any of those that oppose this bill … had ever had the experience of standing over their grandson’s casket and kissing him on the cheek and telling him good-bye, knowing that the state of Alabama doesn’t even recognize that he is a child," said Roger Parker.
Governor Bob Riley also testified in favor of the bill and told committee members that if it was allowed to receive a vote, he was sure it would pass through the Senate unanimously.
"It would be a shame to see it locked down again in the Senate committee," Riley said.
The Alabama District Attorneys Association announced earlier this month that it supports the measure too. The group switched its allegiance from a competing measure that only protect unborn children after 19 weeks of pregnancy to one that protects them throughout pregnancy.
Alabama Attorney General Troy King assured the group that the pro-life version was constitutional. In fact, similar laws in other states have never been declared unconstitutional in any legal challenges to them filed by abortion advocates.