Maine Senate Defeats Bill to Protect Pregnant Women, Unborn

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 7, 2011   |   11:58AM   |   Augusta, ME

Federal law and the laws of more than two dozen states offer protection and justice for pregnant women and unborn children who are victims of violent crimes by holding criminals accountable for killing or injuring both. But the Maine Senate rejected the measure.

Senators voted 18-15 against the bill which would have allowed prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes instead of one when they kill or injure both a pregnant mother and her unborn baby. The law is similar to the ones that the federal government and states put in place following the killings of Laci and Connor Peterson, a California pregnant mom and her 9-month-old unborn baby.

Assistant Senate Republican leader Debra Plowman of Hampden supported the legislation and said it would provide justice for unborn children who are often forgotten in states like Maine where only the crimes against the baby’s mother can be put forward. Plowman noted that the bill specifically excluded abortion — yet abortion supporters opposed the pro-woman bill because they are opposed to any legal recognition for unborn children, even outside the scope of abortion.

Sen. Douglas Thomas, another Republican, also supported the bill, according to Westport News, saying, “There’s no one who is more innocent or defenseless than an unborn child.”

But Stanley Gerzofsky, a Democrat, opposed the bill, saying state law allows for a second count in such cases. However, that count is merely a sentence enhancement for attacking and killing or injuring the pregnant woman, it does not allow the prosecutor to bring charges against the criminal for crimes against the unborn child — especially in cases when the mother survives the attack and her unborn child is killed. In such cases, pregnant women have feverishly lobbied legislators to change the law so their child’s death is recognized and their baby has justice under state law.

Sen. Philip Bartlett II, another Democrat, also opposed the law and claimed that it would undercut Roe v. Wade even though federal and state laws offering such protection and justice have not done so.

The bill would create the new crimes of murder, felony murder, manslaughter, assault, aggravated assault and elevated aggravated assault against an unborn child. The bill faces another vote in the House, and a vote against the measure would kill it for the legislative session.

Maine Right to Life emailed its supporters following the vote, saying, “It is with sadness that we contact you to inform you that today the Maine Senate voted against the fetal rights bill by a vote of 18-15. LD 1463, An Act Regarding Offenses Against an Unborn Child  sponsored by Senator Debra Plowman was defeated in the Senate.”

“Thirty-six states have passed similar “Laci and Conner’s Law” legislation.  Senator Plowman is a valiant pro-life leader who is to be commended for her valor in the Maine Legislature,” the group said.

ACTION: Tell your state senator that you are disappointed the bill did not pass by going to