Colorado Senate passes Unborn Victims of Violence bill on party line vote

Spurred by attack on woman whose seven-month-old unborn baby was cut from her womb

unbornbaby25In a bill strongly supported by NRLC’s state affiliate, the Colorado Senate today approved Senate Bill 268 on a party line vote of 18-17. The approval came after a lengthy debate on Monday. The measure faces a very uncertain fate in the House, which is controlled by Democrats, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

SB 268 would recognize that when a pregnant woman is attacked and loses her baby, there are two victims. Thirty eight states have some version of an unborn victim of violence act. Most (29) extend that protection to the unborn throughout the entire period of pre-natal development.

Under SB 268, prosecutors could file a separate murder charge for the death of an unborn child. While pro-abortion politicians insist the measure is a backdoor attack on “abortion rights,” in fact the legislation is a response to the March 18 attack by Dynel Lane on Michelle Wilkins in which Lane stabbed Wilkins and cut her 7-month-old baby out from her womb.

“It is a travesty that not a single Democrat voted in favor of this legislation, which would bring justice for babies like Aurora who die in violent homicides,” said Sarah Zagorski, executive director of Colorado Citizens for Life. “At the very least, Colorado Citizens for Life would hope that lawmakers could put aside their partisan differences to pass this common sense piece of legislation.”

Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll voiced the typical Democrat objection when he said, “We, in fact, are writing laws that can have profound unintended consequences to criminalize women.”

The bill does nothing of the sort, of course. As NRL News Today reported previously, supporters of the bill went the extra mile to make clear that the law would not change the abortion law. “It specifically says it does not apply to an act committed by the mother of her unborn child or a medical procedure performed by a physician or other licensed medical professional at the request of a mother of her unborn child or the mother’s legal guardian,” according to the Denver Post’s John Frank.

While the attack on Ms. Wilkins crystallized the debate, when Senate President Bill Cadman introduced his bill on the floor of the Senate on Monday, he began “by describing a long list of Colorado crimes where pregnant women were killed or harmed but the suspects didn’t face murder charges for the unborn child,” according to Gazette Springs reporter Megan Schrader. “They included the Aurora movie theater shooting, a Colorado Springs slaying of a newlywed Fort Carson soldier and his pregnant wife and the recent Longmont attack where a woman’s 7-month-old fetus was cut from her womb.”

Cadman told his colleagues, “There are stories, story, after story, after story about women being attacked in Colorado, in some fashion, where their baby is hurt or killed and there is no justice for that baby. He added, “This is not a new situation, although I would say the details of this crime are as horrific as they could be.”

Wilkins was seven months pregnant when she answered a Craigslist ad for baby clothes. At some point after Wilkins arrived, Lane stabbed her several times in the stomach with a knife and a piece of broken glass, police said. Lane then cut Wilkins’s baby from her body.

Wilkins survived but her baby died. But as NRL News Today reported, the coroner concluded the baby had not “exhibited any signs of life outside of the womb, therefore the circumstance is not being considered a live birth.” Thus Lane could not be charged with murder, hence SB 268.