By Dave Andrusko
Sadly, as anticipated, the Democratic members of a Colorado House committee voted Monday to reject a bill to establish that when a pregnant woman is attacked and loses her baby, there are two victims.
On a straight party line vote, the Offenses Against Unborn Children Act (SB 268) was defeated 6-5.
The bill had passed the Republican-controlled Senate April 28.
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.
But Democrats on the House State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee were unswayed, even though the impetus for the bill was a horrific attack on Michelle Wilkins. Wilkins’s unborn baby was 34 weeks when Wilkins was attacked and her baby cut out of her womb.
Wilkins survived the savage attack by Dynel Lane but baby Aurora was pronounced dead at Longmont United Hospital. (Longmont is 30 miles north of Denver.)
Under SB 268, prosecutors could file a separate murder charge for the death of an unborn child. This was not possible under current law when 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.”
Lane was bound over for trial by a judge after a preliminary hearing on Tuesday. She will be arraigned in July. Lane, 34, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, felony assault, and unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
“Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado applauded the Democrats for killing the bill,” The Washington Times reported. Proving yet again there is no depths to which they will not sink, the group said in a statement, “It could have opened the door to prosecutions of women whose pregnancies face complications and tragically end in miscarriage.”
Of course SB 268 would have done nothing of the sort. As NRL News Today reported, supporters of the bill made it crystal-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, 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 Colorado Springs Gazette 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.
Last Friday prosecutors submitted a brief in anticipation of today’s preliminary hearing. According to Reuters
After the two women talked for about an hour, Lane asked Wilkins to come into the basement of the home, where she attacked the younger woman, smashing a lava lamp over Wilkins’ head, prosecutors said.
“Then she used the lamp to stab Ms. Wilkins in the neck, and proceeded to choke her with her hands, and smother her with a pillow,” the document said.
After she rendered Wilkins unconscious, Lane used a knife to slice open the victim’s abdomen and remove the fetus, prosecutors said.
Lane then placed the fetus in a bathtub and left Wilkins bleeding on a bed in the basement for “a lengthy period of time,” according to the brief.
David Ridley, Lane’s unsuspecting husband, then came home, according to the criminal complaint.
Lane had told him she was pregnant and when he saw her drenched in blood, Lane told Ridley she had miscarried.
Ridley went upstairs and found the baby in the bathtub. He told police the baby was alive.
“He rubbed the baby slightly, then rolled it over to hear and see it take a gasping breath,” according to the complaint.
The arrest report states that Ridley rushed the baby and his wife to Longmont United Hospital where Lane was taken to the emergency room with the baby in her arms.
The arrest report states that Lane refused to let the hospital staff examine her. “The report states that she then ‘admitted’ to a police officer ‘that she cut [the victim’s] abdomen open to remove,’” the baby, according to the Denver Post.