North Carolina Sends Unborn Victims Bill to Governor Perdue

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 21, 2011   |   7:57PM   |   Charlotte, NC

North Carolina legislators cast their final votes today for legislation that would add North Carolina to the list of more than 25 states that provide justice and protection for pregnant women and unborn children.

The national law and laws in more than half of the states in the nation allow prosecutors to charge criminals for two crimes when they kill and injure both a pregnant mother and her unborn child in the course of a violent crime outside the context of abortion, Without this law in place, assailants would only be held accountable for killing or injuring the mother in such an attack or assault and would face no punishment for killing the unborn child — even days before birth.

Now, thanks to a 77-40 vote in the state House on Tuesday, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is headed to Governor Bev Perdue for her potential signature. The bill, known as Ethan’s Law is named after the unborn child of a Raleigh newspaper carrier, who was murdered in 2007. The Senate approved the bill on a 45-4 margin and, even though Perdue has not said if she will sign or veto the legislation, the bill has a veto-proof majority in the legislature.

“It should have always been a law,” Kevin Blaine said of House Bill 215. His daughter Jenna Nielsen was killed when she was 8 1/2 months pregnant with her unborn child. “Why we had to go through this, I don’t really have an answer for that, but I’m really happy right now.”

According to the National Right to Life Committee, some 35 states recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances. The federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, enacted April 1, 2004, covers unborn victims of federal and military crimes.

Of the 35 states, 25 of them offer justice and protecting for women and unborn children throughout pregnancy while another 10 offer the protection only during the early stages.

During the debate on the bill, North Carolina Right to Life told legislators it supports the passage of The Unborn Victims of Violence Act/Ethen’s Law.

“H215 recognizes the unborn child as a second victim when the unborn child is injured or dies during the commission of a crime.  Currently, if an unborn child dies or is injured on federal property located in North Carolina, the criminal can be charged for the injury or death of the child; yet, the same person could not be charged for the injury or death of the unborn child if the same crime was committed any where else in North Carolina,” the group said. “Passage of H215 will correct this inequity.  The victims’ families are seeking and deserve justice for their families and recognition that two of their family members have been affected when their pregnant daughters and grandchildren have been killed or injured.”

ACTION: Contact Governor Perdue at and ask her to sign the bill into law.