Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a law Sunday to allow murder charges to be brought against unborn babies who are victims of secondary violence. The law recognizes that unborn babies are valuable human beings who also deserve justice in crimes committed against their mothers.
State Sen. Aaron Freeman, who introduced Senate Bill 203, told the Indy Star that a woman in his district lost her daughter and unborn grandchild to homicide. Their story prompted him to introduce the bill to recognize unborn babies as second victims in crimes against pregnant women.
“If someone kills a pregnant woman, they should not only be tried for her death, but also the death of the fetus,” Freeman said, according to Fox 59 News.
The law permits charges of murder, manslaughter and feticide against any person who kills an unborn child, at any stage of development, during the commission of a felony. Additionally, should those charges succeed in a criminal case, it maintains the judge’s ability to increase sentencing by six to 20 years.
Indiana Right to Life described the legislation as a “powerful step forward” in recognizing the humanity of unborn babies when it passed the House in February.
“The recognition of the worth of a child killed during a felony further places Roe v. Wade on a collision course with law and history,” Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter said. “We are committed to doubling down on efforts to bring about a majority on the Supreme Court that will strictly interpret the constitution, dismantle Roe, and provide full protection for all unborn children, including those who are targeted for abortion.”
However, pro-abortion groups opposed the law even though it is not related to abortion.
Here’s more from the Indy Star:
Women’s rights groups feared that a feticide bill in the Indiana General Assembly could be used to prosecute women who miscarry or have an abortion. The measure is designed to allow prosecutors to bring additional charges against a person who kills a pregnant woman.
“I want to make it very clear that this is not an abortion bill,” said Freeman in an earlier interview. The former prosecutor said he was “trying to give the prosecutors another avenue to prosecute folks. … There’s nothing else being intended here.”
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. Each law includes exceptions for abortion.
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’ daughter’s death.