by Steven Ertelt
August 22, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — More states approved unborn victims laws in 2006 protecting pregnant women and their children before birth. Combined with a federal law that offers further protection, most states now recognize death or injury to an unborn child at least some of the time during a pregnancy, but more work is needed.
The case of Laci Peterson drew national attention to the growing phenomenon of violence against pregnancy women.
Laci and her unborn child Conner were killed in 2002 and their bodies were dumped into San Francisco Bay around Christmas. The case drew national attention and controversy for its timing and brutality and the soap opera type events that followed.
But it brought the plight of pregnant women to the forefront and pointed to a disturbing trend of violence against pregnant women, in part because of abortion.
News stories began appearing more frequently on nightly television newscasts and in local newspapers of women getting pregnant and their boyfriends or husbands wanting them to have an abortion. After refusing, they became victims of violence that, in some cases, killed or injured their baby.
Lawmakers have taken notice and, today, 34 states offer further legal protection for pregnant women and their unborn children.
Twenty-four of the states now allow for further charges against a criminal who attacks a pregnant woman and kills or injured her baby at any point during pregnancy. Ten states offer some protection by putting forth additional charges in later stages of pregnancy.
This year, Alabama, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Carolina and West Virginia approved unborn victims laws and all five of the statutes protect pregnant women throughout pregnancy.
Georgia and Nebraska amended existing laws to protect women and babies through the entirety of pregnancy.
However, the desire to protect pregnant women isn’t going over well with abortion advocates. They say the laws build up public opinion against abortion by recognizing the humanity of the unborn child.
“It’s the elevation of the status of the fetus that is going to erode the right to access abortion,” Sondra Goldschein, state strategies director for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, told Stateline.org.
While the unborn victims laws specifically exclude abortion, pro-life advocates acknowledge that the laws point public opinion towards seeing the protection of the unborn as a good thing.
"In as many areas as we can, we want to put on the books that the embryo is a person," Samuel B. Casey, director of the Christian Legal Society, told the Los Angeles Times. That sets the stage for a jurist to acknowledge that human beings at any stage of development deserve protection."
But pro-life advocates have work to do to protect women and children.
States like Montana, Kansas and Wyoming as well as Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine are some of the 16 that have no law.