On July 5, a four-time drunk driver struck Heather Surovik and her son, Brady. Only 8 pounds, 2 ounces, Brady did not survive. Appallingly, the driver was charged with destroying Heather’s property and injuring her, but no charges were filed in relation to Brady’s death. Why? According to Colorado law, he was not a person.
The day of the accident, Heather had a final prenatal appointment, where she learned that she could go into labor at any time. Admiring her son on an ultrasound machine, she anticipated meeting him and holding him for the first time. That moment, and a lifetime of others, was stolen from her when the drunk driver smashed into her car on her way home from the appointment.
After the accident, Heather awoke in the intensive care unit and was told that her unborn baby did not survive. She then learned that not only had he been killed by a drunk driver, but that the driver would serve a much shorter sentence than expected after his conviction because prosecutors could not charge him with Brady’s death.
Colorado is one of a handful of states without a fetal homicide law on record. Yet in 2007, the Colorado Court of Appeals heard People v. Lage and commented that “Congress and most state legislatures” have allowed homicide prosecutions for the unborn and that “this is an area that cries out for new legislation.”
Colorado has been overwhelmed with similar cases of fetal homicide nearly every year. In 2010, Laurie Gorham was struck by a vehicle as she was crossing the street. Just weeks from delivery, her baby did not survive. Then, two weeks after Brady’s death, Ashley Moser’s unborn child and 6-year-old daughter were victims in the tragic Aurora theater shooting.
These are all unimaginable losses, and they have something else in common: There is no justice for the unborn victims. A review of these cases, where district attorneys were unable to prosecute violent criminals, affirms the comment made by the Colorado Court of Appeals: This is an area that cries out for new legislation.
As Heather recuperated, Colorado House Representative Janak Joshi introduced H.B. 1032, an abortion-neutral bill that would have criminalized fetal homicide in accidents such as Brady’s. The bill was backed by the Fraternal Order of Police and the Colorado District Attorney’s Council.
On Jan. 28, Heather testified on behalf of the bill, breaking down in tears when she was told by a pro-abortion group, We are Women Colorado, that she had not lost a baby in the accident, just a “pregnancy.” Directed by Planned Parenthood attorneys, House Democrats voted no and killed the bill 7-4.
Discouraged but determined, Heather filed a citizen’s initiative the same day to amend the Colorado Constitution.
Heather is determined to lend her voice to a growing clamor for the recognition of the rights of unborn children and their parents. The amendment, supported by Personhood USA, affirms the legal recognition of babies like Brady through all nine months of pregnancy. The amendment to the state constitution was not written to create a new law but to make certain that the current laws apply to every person.
There is a clear distinction between Colorado’s new Brady Amendment and the 38 state fetal homicide laws already in existence nationwide. Those laws acknowledge that when wanted unborn children are killed, their deaths must be vindicated. Yet these laws go out of their way to include caveats for the abortion industry with an explicit denial of rights for unwanted children.
The Brady Amendment is the first in the country to enable prosecution for homicide in the cases of violent crimes against unborn babies without legitimizing abortion. The discordance of other state laws is not present in this historic new amendment.
A hard lesson was learned in the hearings for H.B. 1032. Faced with horrific stories of violence, contrasted by photos of a precious chubby-cheeked Brady, Colorado legislators did not listen to Heather. They were not moved by the tragic loss of life or by the testimonies of the mothers left behind.
Because cold-hearted legislators have chosen to turn their backs on grieving mothers, it is up to the people to combat the grave injustices of Colorado’s current laws.
Jennifer Mason is communications director at Personhood USA.