Fetal Homicide Bills Considered Again

February 9, 2017

Fetal homicide legislation is once again up for debate in Concord, and Cornerstone has once again gone on record urging legislators to pass this important measure. Most recently, Cornerstone submitted testimony to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in support of HB 156, whose chief sponsor is Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack).

Fetal homicide legislation, already on the books in more than three dozen states, allows prosecution of a person, such as an impaired driver or abusive domestic partner, whose actions cause a woman to lose a pregnancy that she has chosen to carry. Despite the fears of abortion advocacy organizations, the fetal homicide bills being considered in New Hampshire explicitly do not apply to abortion or to any act performed with the mother’s consent.

Cornerstone’s testimony on HB 156 included a reminder to legislators about why New Hampshire needs a fetal homicide law. We have included this reminder every time we have testified on fetal homicide bills since 2012.

In 2006, a drunk driver traveling at over 100 miles per hour on the streets of Manchester hit a taxi, killing one adult and injuring two others. One of the injured victims was 7 months pregnant, and her baby was delivered by cesarean section shortly after the collision. The baby, a boy named Dominick, died two weeks later. The medical examiner determined that he died as a result of the injuries he sustained in the collision. Three years later, on appeal, the state Supreme Court in State v. Lamy overturned the driver’s conviction for causing the child’s death. Justice Duggan, writing for a unanimous court, said, “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”