- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2015

DENVER — Colorado Democrats defeated Monday a fetal homicide bill introduced by Republicans in April after a horrific attack on a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy whose unborn baby was cut out of her womb.

Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman filed the legislation shortly after Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said he was unable to file first-degree murder charges in the case because there was no proof that the baby had lived outside the womb.

Mr. Cadman said the bill would have only applied when the termination of the pregnancy was against the will of the mother, and not to legal abortions. Even so, House Democrats defeated the bill in committee on a party-line vote, much to the disgust of Republicans.

“After the tragedy that occurred in Longmont earlier this year, it became apparent our current laws are ill-equipped to bring appropriate justice for unborn victims and their families,” House Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence said in a statement. “I’m disgusted Democrats turned this into a debate about abortion and killed a bill for purely political reasons that would have provided justice to mothers and their children.”

Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado applauded the Democrats for killing the bill, saying it would have created fetal personhood.

“It could have opened the door to prosecutions of women whose pregnancies face complications and tragically end in miscarriage,” the group said in a statement. “Furthermore, the bill did not explicitly protect access to abortion, putting Colorado physicians in danger of prosecution if they provide care to pregnant women facing complications in their pregnancy or for providing safe abortion services.”

The bill’s language says it would apply at every stage of development starting at conception, but would not apply to acts committed by the mother or the physician treating her, nor to the lawful administration of medication.

Michelle Wilkins, 26, was attacked March 18 and left for dead in the basement of Dynel Lane, 34, who is accused of breaking a lava lamp over the pregnant woman’s head and cutting the fetus out of her womb with a knife.

Ms. Wilkins managed to survive the assault by reaching her cell phone after she regained consciousness and calling 911. She had come to Ms. Lane’s Longmont home in response to a Craigslist ad for baby clothes.

Ms. Lane has two daughters but lost her toddler son in a drowning accident in 2002.

Prosecutors filed multiple charges against Ms. Lane, including attempted first-degree murder and first-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy, but state law requires a victim to have shown signs of life before murder charges may be filed. She could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.

At least 38 states have some kind of fetal homicide law, and 23 have laws that make it illegal to kill a child in utero from the earliest stages of gestation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Colorado does have a law for enhanced sentencing in the murder of or assault on a pregnant woman.

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