North Carolina Gov. Perdue Signs Unborn Victims Legislation

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 2, 2011   |   12:59PM   |   Charlotte, NC

Despite her official position in favor of legalized abortion, Governor Bev Perdue signed a bill on Friday that protects unborn children and their mothers from violent crimes.

North Carolina legislators approved a bill 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.

The state House signed off on the legislation, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, with a 77-40 vote last week. Perdue signed the bill, which does not pertain to abortions, into law on Friday and it will take effect on December 1.

In a statement, the governor said that, while she supports abortions, “I do support punishing any person who would attack or kill a pregnant woman. I sign this bill today to show that support.”

“I have children of my own, and grandchildren,” Perdue, a Democrat, said. “I know the powerful instinct of a mother to protect her children, and I know how I would feel if anyone had harmed my daughters-in-law or me when we were pregnant.”

Pro-life advocates have fought for the law for years and they say it was made possible only when Republicans won control of the state legislature and were able to shepherd the bill through the legislative process.

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.

“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 thank her for signing the bill into law.