by Steven Ertelt
March 17, 2006
Montgomery, AL (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life lawmakers failed Thursday to get the state Senate to pull an unborn victims bill from committee and place it another committee that will vote on it. The procedural failure may wind up becoming an election issue this November as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lucy Baxley ruled the bill couldn’t be brought up.
Sen. Hank Erwin, a Republican, tried to bring the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it has been sitting for two months without a vote. The committee has buried the measure in previous legislative sessions.
The bill gives an added measure of justice for pregnant women and their unborn children by allowing prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes and not just one when they attack a pregnant mother and kill or injure the baby as well.
Senate rules allow a bill to be removed from committee and placed it another one when there has been no action on a bill for six days.
Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley ruled the bill couldn’t be pulled from committee because she determined "action" meant a public hearing. The committee held a hearing on the bill but won’t vote on it.
Erwin called on the Senate to overrule Baxley’s ruling and senators supporter him on a 17-12 vote, which was one shy of the 18 needed to overrule Baxley and move the bill.
As a result, the measure may very well be dead for this legislative session.
Sen. Bradley Byrne, a Republican, said he expected Baxley’s ruling to be used in the upcoming gubernatorial elections.
"You can count on it — probably in the governor’s race," he told the Associated Press.
But Baxley told AP she thought it was unfair to pin the blame on her.
"I felt like there was a little politics in it to act like I was opposing the bill itself," she said.
The House approved the measure, which has the backing of Roger Parker, 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 said of State Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Democrat from Birmingham, who chairs the judicial panel.
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.
Governor Bob Riley 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 at the time.
The Alabama District Attorneys Association announced earlier this month that it supports the measure too.