Focus shifted in unborn-victims measure

March 27, 2004|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN STAFF

An amendment to legislation aimed at recognizing the rights of the unborn shifted the bill's thrust from protecting only the fetus to protecting their mothers when it was approved by a slim margin yesterday on the Senate floor.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act was originally drafted to outlaw bringing intentional harm to an unborn child. As amended after a lively debate and a 25-22 vote, the renamed bill would create a new first-degree assault charge for use when someone assaults a woman with the intent of causing miscarriage or stillbirth.

The bill's sponsor, Prince George's County Democrat Sen. Leo E. Green, said the change gutted the legislation.

"This takes the unborn child out of the bill," he told his fellow senators.

But the argument that prevailed was best articulated by a Democrat from Montgomery County, Sen. Brian E. Frosh.

"If you want to protect pregnant women and their babies, this is the way to do it," he said.

A final vote on the bill was put off until Monday, and further amendments are likely.

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