Many Michigan lawmakers think the answer to that question should be yes.
WWMT News reports state lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it clear that judges may sentence attackers for hurting two people in crimes involving injury or death to a pregnant mother and her unborn baby.
Michigan House Bill 4500 passed the state House on Thursday and now moves to the state Senate for consideration.
Michigan has an unborn victims of violence law that recognizes unborn babies as second victims of violence committed against their mothers; however, the new bill would make it clear that unborn babies should be treated as second victims for purposes of sentencing in crimes against a pregnant woman.
“What the legislature said is let’s remove the ambiguity and make it clear in the statute so the judges know they have the ability to score this, or that they should score it and then they can sentence accordingly,” Right to Life of Michigan spokesman Ed Rivet said.
The pro-life organization explained more:
The Prenatal Protection Act has been in place since 1998. It states that it is a crime to intentionally or unintentionally harm an unborn embryo or fetus except by actions taken by the mother or her doctor. It includes charges for the death of a pregnant woman which results in the death of her unborn child as well as causing a stillbirth or miscarriage of an unborn child through criminal or negligent actions. HB 4500 simply places into statue the ruling found in the case of People vs. Ambrose (Mich COA 2016) by declaring that for sentencing purposes, an embryo or fetus may be considered a person when determining the number of victims of a crime.
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Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion lawmakers oppose the bill.
State Rep. Andy Schor, a pro-abortion Democrat, said he voted against the bill because it treats an embryo like a person and could be a step toward overturning Roe v. Wade, the local news reports.
“The argument was that it codified a court decision, but it went a lot further than that.” Schor said. “It’s didn’t just talk about victims, it talked about persons, so it basically said an embryo is a person instead of a victim.”
The abortion chain Planned Parenthood also criticized the bill, claiming it would “…establish a fetal personhood, the first step anti-abortion extremists maintain is key to permanently outlawing abortion.”
In total, 29 states recognize unborn babies as victims of non-abortion violence at all stages of life, according to the National Right to Life Committee. Eight other states recognize unborn victims of violence in at least some circumstances. In June, New Hampshire lawmakers passed a bill that will make it the ninth, granting recognition to unborn babies starting at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Every state with such a law in place has an exception for abortions.
A few states still do not provide justice for unborn victims of violence. In 2015, Colorado lawmakers rejected a bill to protect unborn victims in their state.
The bill was prompted by a gruesome crime involving Dynel Catrece Lane, who was convicted for attacking a pregnant woman and cutting her 7-month unborn baby from her womb. In this unbelievable act of violence, the baby died but the mother, Michelle Wilkins, survived.
In 2016, a judge sentenced Lane to 100 years of prison for assaulting and attempting to murder Wilkins, but Lane did not face charges for Wilkins’ unborn daughter’s death.