Unborn victims bill postponed in Senate


Maryland won't be enacting this year its own version of the federal Laci and Conner Law, which would have created additional charges for someone who harms a pregnant woman and her fetus.

In a 25-22 vote yesterday, the state Senate agreed to indefinitely postpone consideration of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

At issue: whether someone who assaults a pregnant woman, resulting in the injury or death of her fetus, should face charges for harming one person or two.

Sen. Leo. E. Green, a Democrat from Prince George's County who sponsored the bill, sounded resigned as he pleaded with legislators to vote against the motion to table the bill.

"If you believe there is only one victim, that a baby has to be born alive to be a victim, then you" should vote in favor of the motion, he said.

Proponents of suspending debate on the matter said the bill was flawed and would have been confusing if made into law.

The proposal was named in memory of Laci and Conner Peterson of Modesto, Calif. Laci Peterson's body washed ashore in San Francisco Bay in April last year. At the time of her disappearance, she was eight months' pregnant with a boy she and her husband, Scott, had planned to name Conner. Scott Peterson is on trial in her killing.

President Bush is expected to sign the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act passed by Congress, which recognizes an unborn child as a second victim when killed or injured during the commission of a violent federal crime.

Some who don't support such legislation fear that giving a fetus at any stage of development the same legal rights as the pregnant woman will undermine the right to abortion as guaranteed under the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision.

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