by Steven Ertelt
January 29, 2007
Denver, CO (LifeNews.com) — A Colorado legislative committee is expected to hold a hearing today on a bill that would protect pregnant women like Laci Peterson from acts of violence. The bill says that when a criminal kills an unborn child during an attack on the baby’s mother, he will be charged with two crimes instead of one.
Sen. Dave Schultheis, a Colorado Springs Republican, and Rep. Kevin Lundberg, a Republican from Berthoud, are the lead sponsors of the bill.
Last year, members of the House Judiciary Committee killed a similar bill on a party line vote.
Schultheis told the Colorado Springs Gazette that the bill is not an abortion related measure and shouldn’t be opposed by abortion advocates, even though they are campaigning against it.
“It’s basically not an abortion law one way or the other,” Schultheis said.
“Everyone should be concerned about what is happening to greater and greater numbers of pregnant women,” Schultheis added. “We’ve got to deal with that in a strong way and let the public know it’s not going to be tolerated.”
Rep. Kent Lambert told the newspaper that he supports the measure and that it supports women.
“If we’re going to have choice, the woman should be able to choose not to terminate her pregnancy," he said. “That’s why we should protect her from murder or domestic violence.”
Showing the need for the bill, the legislators point to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which says more than 1,300 pregnant women in the United States were killed from 1990 to 2004
They also cite a study the American Journal of Public Health published in 2005 showing homicide is the second most common cause of death for pregnant women.
Abortion frequently plays a factor in such deaths because a boyfriend or husband who doesn’t want to become a father pressures his partner to have an abortion. After refusing, that confrontation over what to do about the pregnancy can lead to a physical altercation resulting in an assault of the mother or her death.
Last year, Colorado Springs resident Erin-Lea Hanson argued for the legislation.
She told the Coloradoan newspaper that her unborn grandson "had as much a right to life as she did" when her pregnant daughter Amanda Lynn was murdered.
"His life was intentionally taken," she said.
"Another woman’s going to die, and that woman’s going to be pregnant, and her killer’s not going to be charged with two counts of first degree murder," she added.
Hanson said she would be back this year to press for passage of the measure.
The committee voted against the bill after Warren Hearn, one of the few late-term abortion practitioners in the country, testified against it. He claimed he would have to shut down his abortion business because he would be prosecuted for performing abortions.
Kate Horle, vice president for public affairs at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, also testified against the pro-woman bill.
In October 2003, Colorado prosecutors were upset that they could not charge a man in the death of an unborn child because the state has no law that allows prosecutors to hold him responsible.
Daniel Self, 46, was charged with killing a pregnant woman but couldn’t be charged in the death of her unborn son. At a hearing, District Judge Gil Martinez dismissed a charge of child abuse resulting in death.
Leah Gee, Self’s girlfriend, died two days after she was shot and her son was delivered by doctors via Caesarian section. He died two weeks later from complications.
Currently 34 states have some kind of law to hold criminals accountable for two crimes in assaults against pregnant mothers and their unborn children and 24 of those protect mother and child throughout pregnancy.
TAKE ACTION: Contact the members of the committee and express your opinion about their vote. For more info see https://www.leg.state.co.us.