Florida’s “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” takes effect


By Dave Andrusko

Remee Jo Lee, after John Andrew Welden was sentenced to 13 years and eight months.

Remee Jo Lee, after John Andrew Welden was sentenced to 13 years and eight months.

A tip of the hat to Sarah Zagorski for reminding us that “Florida Unborn Victims of Violence Act,” which makes it a second, separate offense to kill or injure a baby during a crime against a pregnant woman, went into effect on Wednesday.

The old law (passed in 2005) applied only if the baby is judged “viable” and does not include injuries the baby might suffer. The new law applies criminal sanctions at any stage of development and includes injuries as well as death.

It was not as if there had not been horrific cases where pregnant women and their unborn child were killed previous to the now famous case of Remee Lee. But Ms. Lee’s public account was hugely influential in securing passage.

Indeed both supporters and opponents alike gave credit to Lee, who strongly backed the bill. As NRL News Today readers know, Lee was victimized by John Andrew Welden, who allegedly tricked her into taking a drug that caused the abortion of Lee’s 6-7-week-old unborn baby. Welden was subsequently sentenced 13 years and eight months.

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The bill had passed both houses of the legislation in recent years but never in both chambers in the same year. This time it did—in the House on a 74 to 42 vote and the Senate, by 25-14 vote.

Pro-life Gov. Rick Scott

Pro-life Gov. Rick Scott

Pro-Life Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill into law June 20.

As Florida Right to Life explained earlier this year, opponents used the same old tired arguments. But

“They weren’t counting on Remee Lee. …. She has courageously chosen to become an advocate for this bill so that others do not have to endure the pain she has been through.

“It has been an absolute honor to work with Remee on behalf of this much-needed legislation. She has diligently traveled to Tallahassee to speak in support of Unborn Victims of Violence in committee meetings, and was present for the vote on the House floor. It was appalling to watch the venom of the opposing legislators who debated that Remee, or any woman like her, should not be protected under Florida law. Her grace and dedication to help protect other women and children from experiencing what she endured has been inspiring.”

For her part, Lee said, “If one baby is saved then that just means everything.” She added, “I really hope this will save the lives of mothers and of babies and that no other parent like myself … will ever have to deal with this pain ever again.”

There are currently 37 states that recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances. Twenty nine of those states recognize Unborn Children as Victims throughout the entire period of pre-natal development.