Greensboro, North Carolina—On April 29, Governor Beverly Perdue signed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act / Ethen’s Law. The bill passed both the State House and Senate along party lines, with a vote of 45-4 in the Senate and vote of 78-39 to concur in the House. The law becomes effective December 1.
The law is named after Ethen Nielsen, the unborn son of Jenna Nielsen. Ethen and Jenna were murdered in 2007, during the nine month of the pregnancy. Her father, Kevin Blaine, who had lobbied the legislature in favor of the bill since his daughter and grandson’s death, stated that he did not know why it had taken so long to get this bill through the General Assembly.
Effie Steele, whose daughter Ebony Robinson and grandson Elijah were also murdered, had been advocating for the bill, like the Nielsen family. Ms. Steele gave an impassioned testimony before the House and Senate committees that heard the bill saying how upset she was when she found out the murderer would only be charged with one murder, rather than two. Both Effie Steele and Kevin Blaine had traveled the state to speak in favor of the bill, had attended press conferences and committee meetings, and had followed the floor debate in the House and Senate.
North Carolina Right to Life applauds the Governor and those legislators in both the NC House and Senate for passing this law which acknowledges what the victims’ families know, that there are two human victims when a mother is attacked and her unborn child is injured or killed.
“The victims’ families have finally gotten the justice they demanded,” stated Barbara Holt, President of North Carolina. “The citizens of this state can now proudly say that North Carolina is one of 36 states that recognize the unborn as a second victim.”
The law complements the federal law which was passed and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2004. In fact, the bill’s lead sponsors, Rep. Dale Folwell and his counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Warren Daniel both pointed out that Ethen’s Law would correct an inequity in our law so that a crime on Capitol Boulevard in Raleigh that resulted in the injury or death of an unborn child would be treated the same way as it is on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
North Carolina Right to Life, the state affiliate of National Right to Life, was founded in 1973 and is the oldest single issue pro-life organization in North Carolina with chapters across the state.