Yet another attempt to erode Roe v. Wade:
The Senate is set to vote Wednesday on a bill that would make causing the death of a fetus equivalent to murder. The Senate Judiciary Committee last week endorsed a version of House Bill 217 that is more restrictive than the one passed by the House in January, which applies to the death of a fetus 24 weeks or older.
The Senate bill applies to an embryo or fetus from conception, and unlike the House version, it would subject perpetrators to murder charges regardless of whether they were aware a woman was pregnant. Doctors or licensed medical professionals who perform abortions would not face charges under both the House and Senate versions of the bill.
The bill classifies an “unborn child” as another person in the first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and negligent homicide statutes. The bill, endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee 4-1, restores the original intent of its main sponsor, Rep. Kathleen Souza, R-Manchester.
She criticized the House amendment to the bill earlier this year, saying it would allow a person who kills a fetus to say, “I didn’t mean to, and the mother is probably dead and can’t challenge the person.”
Opponents of the original bill, however, say it could lead to murder charges even when a woman in unaware she is pregnant. “If you go back to gestation, the reality is a person could be utterly unaware there’s a pregnancy,” said Claire Ebel, executive director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, at the Senate hearing on the bill last month. The bill is patterned after similar “fetal homicide” legislation that has been promoted by pro-life advocates and passed in at least 38 states.
The Senate version more closely follows the model legislation, including its use of the term “unborn child.” The House bill uses the term “fetus.”
The Senate committee’s vote for a bill that is more restrictive than the House version contrasts with its past actions on abortion-related legislation this session. The Senate has rejected or sent to study several House-passed bills that aimed to restrict abortion.
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