Harming and killing unborn children now count as criminal acts in Indiana as Gov. Eric Holcomb on Sunday signed a new bill into a law.
SB 203 will be adopted statewide beginning July 1. The law allows for prosecutors to charge second-degree murder, or voluntary/involuntary manslaughter if a fetus is killed when a pregnant mother is also injured or killed. There's an exception, however, in cases of lawfully performed abortions.
Senator Aaron Freeman proposed the bill in January after receiving a letter from a mom, Jennifer Lee, who lost her pregnant 18-year-old daughter, Brittany, to a violent killing. Lee also wanted the murderer charged for the death of her unborn grandchild, but no such law existed in Indiana.
Lee then wrote over a hundred letters to her representatives in the legislature to create such a law. Freeman was the lone senator to write her back.
"If someone kills a pregnant woman, they should not only be tried for her death, but also the death of the fetus," the senator said. The prison sentence can range from six to 20 years, on top of the sentence for harming or killing the mother.
Pro-life supporters commended the passing of the bill into a law as it acknowledges unborn children as actual people. In a statement, the Indiana Right to Life CEO Mike Fichter said: "The recognition of the worth of a child killed during a felony further places Roe v. Wade on a collision course with law and history."
Women's rights groups, however, raised concerns that the law could be used to file cases against women who suffer from a miscarriage or undergo an abortion. Freeman, however, clarified that the SB 203 was not filed with the intention of curtailing women's rights. At least 38 states in the U.S. have feticide laws but none involve pregnant women.