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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Letter Emailed to All NC House Members about UVVA/Ethen's Law-H215

March 23, 2011

Dear Representative:

North Carolina Right to Life (NCRTL) supports the Unborn Victims of Violence Act/Ethen's Law (H215) which will be heard on the House floor tomorrow afternoon. We ask you to support the bill and oppose any amendments to the bill which would weaken or gut it; NCRTL plans to include these votes in its scorecard of votes taken this session.  

We urge you to support the bill because North Carolina is one of only 15 states that currently does not recognize the unborn child as a second victim when the unborn child is injured or killed by an assailant.  The Federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act does recognize the unborn child as a second victim in those parts of North Carolina that are under federal jurisdiction (the Blue Ridge Parkway, military bases, and federal buildings).  Passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act/Ethen's Law H215 would correct this inequity.

Additionally, the victim's families have petitioned the NC Legislature over the last several years to pass legislation like the bill that will be before you tomorrow.  Effie Steele, the mother of Ebony Robinson and grandmother of Elijah Robinson both killed in 2007, gave an impassioned plea before the Judiciary B Committee for the legislature to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act/Ethen's Law.  Like other victims' families, she spoke as a grieving mother and grandmother in favor of a state law to acknowledge what her family and the other victims' families know, that there were two human victims, not just one, when her unborn grandson and her daughter were killed. 

Some opponents of the bill have argued that the assailant should have to know the woman to be pregnant in order to be charged for the injury or death of her unborn child.  Court decisions in California and Minnesota have ruled that it is not necessary for the assailant to know the woman to be pregnant in order to charge the assailant with a crime against the unborn child. In writing for the majority in the California case, Justice Janice Rogers Brown wrote: "Had one of Fansler's other children died during defendant's assault, there would be no inquiry into whether defendant knew the child was present for implied malice murder liability to attach.  Similarly, there is no principled basis on which to require defendant to know Fansler was pregnant to justify an implied malice murder conviction as to her fetus.  In battering and shooting Fansler, defendant acted with knowledge of the danger to and conscious disregard for life in general.  That is all that is required for implied malice murder.  He did not need to be specifically aware how many potential victims his conscious disregard for life endangered." 

In its document "Key Facts on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act," National Right to Life wrote the following about the Minnesota case: "As the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in upholding the Minnesota unborn victims law, "The possibility that a female homicide victim of childbearing age may be pregnant is a possibility that an assaulter may not safely exclude." [State v. Merrill, 450 N.W.2d 318 (Minn. 1990)]. To read the entire document of Key Facts, go here.  The majority of these key facts are as germane to the debate which will take place tomorrow on the House floor regarding H215 as they were in the debate about the Federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004.

The majority of citizens support recognizing the unborn child as a second victim. 79% (69% of whom are pro-choice) in a 2003 Fox News poll said that prosecutors should be able to charge an attacker with the murder of an unborn child if the pregnant woman was physically attacked and the attack led to the death of her unborn child.  You can see the complete poll results here. It is noteworthy that these same people do not support our current one victim law, "Injury to a Pregnant Woman," which H-215 repeals.

Finally, the opponents of the bill have offered various types of hypothetical situations in arguing against the bill.  There are 25 states with laws like the one you are being asked to support tomorrow and 10 additional states with partial coverage; none of these states to my knowledge have needed to amend their laws because of any unintended consequences associated with their laws.  

Please support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act/Ethen's Law with your votes on Thursday, March 24.

Barbara Holt
North Carolina Right to Life, Inc.
POB 9282
Greensboro, NC 27429-0282
336-213-2211 (cell)

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