"An Act relating to offenses against unborn children. "
"Pregnant women who have been harmed by violence, and their families, know that there are two victims -- the mother and the unborn child -- and both victims should be protected by law."
- Sen. Dyson
In recent years, several high-profile cases from across the nation have highlighted the need for laws protecting unborn victims of criminal violence. Perhaps, most notably, the tragic deaths of Laci and Conner Peterson have focused much-needed attention on this critically important issue. Currently, thirty states provide some degree of protection for unborn victims of violence. Many legal challenges have been brought against state unborn victims laws, based on Roe and other constitutional arguments, but state and federal courts have rejected all such challenges.
Recently, a publicized case in Michigan has the citizens of the state closely evaluating Michigan laws and the related ethical implications. A 16 year old, who was entitled to get a legal abortion, had her boyfriend beat her stomach with a miniature baseball bat over the course of three weeks until she miscarried the baby. A similar scenario is playing out in the State of Texas.
SB 20 amends the Alaska Criminal Code to afford protection to an unborn child at a level that is reasonably equivalent to protection afforded to live born persons in comparable circumstances. Nothing in this law shall apply to legal abortion or to usual and customary medical practice related to pregnancy . This bill also defines "unborn child" within the criminal statutes.
In 2004, the U.S. Congress passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, and President Bush subsequently signed the bill into law. This federal law recognizes that when a person attacks a pregnant woman, and injures or kills her unborn child, the attacker has harmed two victims. It is narrowly drafted in that it only applies when death or injury of an unborn child is the result of a federal crime. The federal act does not supersede state unborn victim laws, nor does it impose such a state law on a state, like Alaska, that has not yet acted.
Pregnant women who have been harmed by violence, and their families, know that there are two victims -- the mother and the unborn child -- and that both victims should be protected by law. Pregnant women are already protected by Alaska Criminal Code. SB 20 affords similar protection to unborn victims.