by Steven Ertelt
February 16, 2007
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — The Kansas state House approved legislation Thursday that would charge criminals with two crimes when they kill a pregnant mother and her unborn child. When teenager Chelsea Brooks and her baby Alexa were murdered, Chelsea’s family was disturbed to learn that Kansas had no law charging the attacker with killing Alexa.
The House approved the bill on a voice vote and the measure applies when mother and child are killed or injured.
The bill defines an unborn child as a person for crimes ranging from murder and manslaughter to assault and vehicular homicide. In includes an “unborn child” at “any stage of gestation from fertilization to birth.”
The measure has the strong support of Kansans for Life, a statewide pro-life group.
“The victim’s family recognizes it,” said Kathy Ostrowski, who lobbies for Kansans for Life. “The medical community understands it. The legal community understands it. It’s two distinct DNAs.”
Before the vote on the bill, the legislature turned back two amendments that would have weakened the law by saying there is only one victim, the mother, in such crimes.
This is the third time the House has approved the bill, but the state Senate defeated it in 2002 and 2005 when committees failed to take a vote on it.
Currently, 34 states have such a law and 24 of them protect pregnant women and their babies throughout pregnancy.
Kansas Rep. Steve Brunk, a Republican, hopes to add the state to the list and he’s obtained petitions with the support of nearly 8,000 people asking for the legislature to approve his legislation.
A previous attempt to pass the law failed last year but the bill was caught up in the debate over abortion because pro-abortion groups are reticent to acknowledge that an attack on a pregnant woman can destroy the life of her child as well.
"I honestly didn’t think it would be such a challenge to get this point," says Terri Brooks, Chelsea’s mother. "I was very surprised Kansas didn’t have a fetal homicide law."
"You would think if we can pass laws to protect animals such as Scruffy’s law which makes it a felony to mistreat an animal….that we can pass a law to protect human life," father Darren Brooks added.
Chelsea’s pregnant body was found in Butler County. The alleged killer was charged only with the murder of Chelsea, an 8th grade student from Wichita.