The New Hampshire House has passed a bill, 243-42, that would allow judges to hand out stiffer sentences when a fetus is killed when the mother dies as a result of a homicide.
Not what you thought from the headline, is it? You might have though it was about killing a fetus in an abortion.
Yet, there are all kinds of implications to penalizing someone who kills a fetus as a result of an attack, whether accidental or intention, on the mother. Does it matter if the mother lives or dies in the attack? Some would argue that penalties should be attached for killing a fetus only if the mother survives.
Under current [New Hampshire] law, if an assault results in a miscarriage or stillbirth and the mother survives, a judge can sentence the assailant to up to 15 years in prison. The bill would allow enhanced sentences to the homicide statute for crimes resulting in the mother’s death. In the case of second degree murder, which is punishable by life in prison, the judge would have to state he or she had considered the miscarriage or stillbirth in deciding on a sentence.
State Rep. Leon Rideout filed the bill after his daughter lost her baby as the result of a traffic accident. The issue also drew attention after a former Fortune 500 executive told police he was trying to kill himself when the pickup truck he was driving crossed an interstate median in December into the path of another car. A couple was killed, including a woman who was eight months pregnant.
Proponents of the stiffer sentences said the bill has nothing to do with abortion. But NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire opposed the bill because the group believes that it would be a step toward granting personhood to fetuses, possibly leading to new restrictions on abortion.
This is an extremist, pro-choice argument that reflects the position that a fetus/unborn child has no intrinsic value. In other words, if the mother dies in a homicide, so what that the fetus died with her?
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