Bill Would Create Unborn Child Homicide Law in NJ
Twelve years ago this December, Laci Peterson was murdered in the eighth month of her pregnancy. Her husband Scott Peterson was convicted of first degree murder in her death and second degree murder in the death of her unborn child, Conner. The brutal murder not only made international news, it also spurred outrage that Scott Peterson was not charged with homicide in the murder of his unborn son. Since that time the majority of states have changed their laws, but New Jersey has not.
"Thirty-eight states have adopted what we call an unborn child homicide law - 38," said Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Jackson). "We (New Jersey) are one of the remaining 12 in the nation. The time is now. We need to enact this legislation."
Under Dancer's newly introduced bill (A-3895), the death of the unborn child would be a separate count of murder, provided the murderer purposely caused serious bodily injury or death to the mother knowing of her pregnancy, and that injury results in the death of her unborn child.
"It is an acknowledgement that a woman's motherhood would be valued and would be recognized under the laws of the State of New Jersey," Dancer explained.
Many of the 38 states adopted their laws following the federal government's 2004 "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," also known as, "Laci and Conner's Law."
Under the legislation there are two exceptions: The unborn child died during a customary medical practice of diagnostic testing or therapeutic treatment; and the act was consented to by the mother.
The murder of an unborn child is often the result of domestic violence, Dancer said. He argued that the murderer of a pregnant woman and her unborn child should be charged with not one count of murder but two counts of homicide.