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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 07, 2018 1:00 am

General Assembly

Expanded feticide bill passes

Awaits governor's signature

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana lawmakers on Tuesday gave final approval to what some conservatives are calling precedent-setting legislation that gives increased legal protection to a fetus.

“Indiana Right to Life applauds the House passage of (Senate Bill) 203 as a powerful step forward in recognizing and protecting the full humanity of unborn children at any stage of development,” said Mike Fichter, Indiana Right to Life president and CEO.

The measure, which now goes to the governor, permits prosecutors to file separate charges of murder, manslaughter and feticide against any person killing a fetus at any state of development during the commission of a felony. Previous law required the fetus to attain viability or be able to survive on its own outside the womb.

“Although this law would not explicitly protect unborn babies from abortionists, it does give legal standing to unborn babies that has not existed before,” said Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute. “This is a big deal.”

Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, said repeatedly during the legislative process that the bill has nothing to do with abortion. In fact, the bill specifically says it does not apply to abortion or a woman who terminates her own pregnancy.

It also can't be used against a woman who kills the fetus she is carrying. It's meant to be used in cases when a third person harms a pregnant woman, for example during a robbery or battery, and the fetus dies as a result.

“If someone kills a pregnant woman, they should not only be tried for her death, but also the death of the fetus,” Freeman said. He introduced the bill after hearing from a woman in his district whose pregnant daughter was killed in a homicide.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said the bill could have “unintended consequences” and commented on how it has flown through with a lot of support.

It passed Tuesday 41-8, with area senators in support of the bill. 

Fichter, from Right to Life, 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. We are committed to doubling down on efforts to bring about a majority on the Supreme Court that will strictly interpret the constitution, dismantle Roe, and provide full protection for all unborn children, including those who are targeted for abortion.”