by Steven Ertelt
March 13, 2006
Lincoln, NE (LifeNews.com) — The Nebraska state legislature gave initial approval last week to an unborn victims bill that would add injuring an unborn child during a woman’s pregnancy to the current crime of killing a baby before birth. The measure would cover instances when a pregnant woman is assaulted but her baby does not die as a result.
The state Senate on Thursday voted 34-1 to give second-round approval to LB 57 that would allow criminal charges to be brought against a person for injuring the baby before birth.
The bill, which state Sen. Mike Foley (R) introduced in January, would define an unborn child as "an individual member of the species Homo sapiens at any stage of development in utero" and would make intentionally causing serious harm to a fetus a felony punishable by 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Foley said the bill is needed because pregnant women are increasingly coming under assault.
"Homicide marked second after automobile accidents for pregnant women,” he said, according to the Daily Nebraskan newspaper. "I never would have predicted this.”
Pro-abortion Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha disagreed with the bill because he said it could be used to overturn abortion rights, even though that hasn’t been done in the dozens of states that have similar laws on the books.
Chambers tried to float amendments to weaken the bill, but they were defeated.
The bill also would create a charge of assault if a fetus were injured during the commission of another crime.
The Senate will hold further deliberations on the bill and give it a final vote.