by Steven Ertelt
May 10, 2007
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has upset the pro-life community in Kansas for years with her vetoes of pro-life legislation limiting abortions. But she signed into law a bill yesterday that helps protect and give justice to pregnant women and unborn children who are victims of violence.
The law is targeted at those who would attack someone like Laci Peterson and her unborn son Conner, who were killed in California and brought national attention to the epidemic of violence against pregnant women.
Sebelius signed the measure without comment as part of a broader package of criminal law provisions, but state pro-life group Kansans for Life was happy with her decision.
"Mother’s Day came early for thousands of Kansans today because criminals who attack pregnant women can no longer get away with murder–literally–in Kansas," Mary Kay Culp, the group’s director, told LifeNews.com.
The law is known as Alexa’s law and the final House vote was 97 to 27 and the Senate approved it on a 26-14 vote margin.
The legislation would allow two charges when a criminal kills both a pregnant mother and her unborn child in an act of violence. Current state law doesn’t allow prosecutors to hold attackers accountable for both crimes.
The bill is known as Alexa’s Law and is named after teenager Chelsea Brooks and her baby Alexa who were both murdered. Chelsea’s family was disturbed to learn the state had no law charging the attacker with killing Alexa.
The Brooks family of Wichita engaged in a public campaign to pass this law, along with Rep. Steve Brunk and successfully delivered over 6,000 petitions to the legislature to obtain unborn victim of violence protection.
A brutal murder-for-hire in June 2006 had taken the lives of the Brooks family’s daughter Chelsea, and nearly-born granddaughter, Alexa. The Wichita prosecutor is only able to prosecute for one death–that of Chelsea–and not for her unborn Alexa; hence the name of the law.
"I honestly didn’t think it would be such a challenge to get this point," Terri Brooks, Chelsea’s mother, said recently. "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.
With the new law, there are now 35 states with this kind of statute on the books and 24 of them protect pregnant women and their babies throughout pregnancy. Law in 10 states have gone to state or federal courts and they have been upheld as constitutional every time.