by Steven Ertelt
March 29, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee finally held a vote on an unborn victims bill and sent it to the full Senate for debate and a vote. The action comes after some supporters thought the bill was dead again thanks to Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Democrat from Birmingham, who chairs the judicial panel and refused to allow a vote.
Sponsored by Sen. Bradley Byrne, a Republican, the measure treats an unborn child as a victim if killed or injured in an assault on the pregnant mother. Previously criminals were only charged with assaulting the mother.
The House previously approved its own version of the bill, HB 19, on a 97-0 vote.
The Senate judicial panel took Bryne’s measure, SB 7, and removed language saying that it applied to an unborn child at any stage of development. Instead, it left the term undefined.
According to an AP report, Byrne did not argue with the action and said the more precise definition, making sure it covers unborn children throughout pregnancy, could be restored in the full Senate or a conference committee.
Last week, Sen. Hank Erwin, a Republican, tried to bring the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it had been sitting for two months without a vote. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lucy Baxley ruled the bill couldn’t be brought up and that upset pro-life lawmakers.
The bill 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.
Roger Parker lobbied for Byrne’s bill and was upset that Smitherman refused to law a vote.
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.