Bill Would Make Killing a Fetus a Separate Crime

Oct 10, 2013

A bill filed at the state legislature would make it a separate criminal act if an unborn child is killed during a crime against the would-be mother. The measure – called the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" – passed the Florida House in 2013 but failed in the Senate.

Bill sponsors hope to make it law in 2014, adding Florida to the twenty-three other states with fetal-homicide laws.

Republican state senator Kelli Stargel is sponsoring the bill, and says a woman who wants to have a baby shouldn't have to fear for her safety.

"More violence happens to pregnant women that pretty much any other woman, and that’s unfortunate", Stargel said. "What we’re trying to do is put a precedent into law that says if you harm that woman and she’s pregnant, and that baby dies as a result, you’ve done violence against two."

The bill doesn't specify a minimum age before the law would apply. A person could be charged with killing the unborn child even if the mother didn't know she was pregnant at the time.

The bill sponsors say they hope men who don’t want to be fathers will think twice before hurting their pregnant wives and girlfriends.

The bill includes an exception for doctors who are performing legal abortions.