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North Carolina Latest State to Enact Unborn Victims of Violence Law

by | May 3, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

On Friday North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue, an abortion supporter, signed “Ethen’s Law,” a measure that makes it a separate crime to kill or harm an unborn child as a result of a violent attack on the child’s mother. Her signature caps a battle that Republicans have waged for more than two decades to pass a unborn victims of violence act.

Jenna Nielsen in an undated photograph supplied by her family. The pregnant 22-year-old was found dead behind a Raleigh convenience store in the early-morning hours of June 14.

The bill is named after the unborn child of Jenna Nielsen, the mother of two, who was murdered in 2007 when she was 8 1/2 months pregnant with her third child.

The state Senate approved H215 by a vote of 45-4. Last week the state House voted 77-40 in favor.

The Unborn Victims Of Violence/Ethen’s Law enables prosecutor to charge the attacker with a violent felony such as murder, voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault if they caused death or injury to an unborn child. It is no defense under the law to argue that the attacker did not know his victim was pregnant, or did not intend to kill or harm her unborn child. Previously North Carolina law did not recognize the death of unborn child as a result of a violent crime as a homicide or separate crime.

“Finally, the state of North Carolina has joined the 35 states that recognize the unborn child as a second victim,” stated Barbara Holt, President of North Carolina Right to Life. “This law which mirrors the federal law, acknowledges what the victims’ families have always known; there are two human victims when a mother is attacked and her unborn child is injured or killed or in the case of an automobile accident when the unborn child dies or is injured.”

Kevin Blaine, Jenna’s father, told WGNC, “It should have always been a law.” He went on to say, “Why we had to go through this, I don’t really have an answer for that, but I’m really happy right now.”

National Right to Life has a complete summary of these laws . North Carolina joins 35 states that recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances. The federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, enacted April 1, 2004, covers unborn victims of federal and military crimes.

Categories: Unborn Children