Wyoming House Panel OKs Bill Ignoring Death of Unborn Children in Crimes
by Steven Ertelt
February 18, 2010
Cheyenne, WY (LifeNews.com) — A Wyoming state House committee approved a bill Thursday morning that pro-life groups point out ignores the death of unborn children in violent crimes committed against pregnant women. The bill would only hold criminals accountable for killing the mother, but not the unborn child.
The House Judiciary Committee signed off on HB 132, a bill sponsored by Rep. Kathy Davison, whose pregnant 33-year-old daughter Kelly Burgess was shot and killed in Colorado last year.
While Davison and the state legislature voted for a two-victim bill the legislature approved in 2007 — that pro-abortion Gov. Dave Freudenthal vetoed — HB is nothing like the previous measure.
The former bill, sponsored by then state Sen. John Barrasso, called for allowing prosecutors to bring two charges for criminals who kill mothers and their unborn children but HB 132 only adds an additional sentence for killing the mother.
The current legislation does not apply to cases when unborn children survive the attack and may be injured as a result of it. That was the situation with the child of former NFL football player Rae Carruth, whose son Chance was left physically disabled after Carruth and friends killed the unborn child’s mother.
Wyoming pro-life groups, including Right to Life of Wyoming and WyWatch Family Institute, have been urging legislators to wait until after the November elections, where they hope a new pro-life governor will be elected, and to work on a pro-life bill that protects women and unborn children both.
They also say passing the single victim bill takes the focus off of Fruedenthal’s veto.
Kelly Rankin, legal counsel to Freudenthal, told the panel today that the governor supports the bill.
But pro-life groups say Freudenthal was already presented with a chance to protect pregnant women and declined to do so saying he was more concerned with protecting legalized abortion than Wyoming women.
They also say Freudenthal did the bidding of pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, which turned the pro-woman bill into an attack on abortion. The 2007 measure couldn’t have applied to abortion because it required an assailant to purposefully kill a pregnant woman, an act which is not an abortion procedure.
Davison’s daughter and grandchild — both of whom lost their lives in the October shooting — wouldn’t qualify for full protection and justice either in their home state
Like Wyoming, Colorado is one of 13 states that do not have an unborn victims law on the books that holds criminals accountable for both crimes.
President George W. Bush signed the federal unborn victims measure into law during his presidency. It applies to federal crimes and crimes committed in federal jurisdictions such as military bases, national parks and tribal lands.
State pro-life groups in Wyoming point out HB 132 will keep Wyoming state law at odds with federal law — with unborn children and their mothers enjoying protection in some parts of the state under federal law but not other state residents living elsewhere.
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