By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — North Carolina’s youngest, most vulnerable residents — those in utero — will gain a new status of sorts on Dec. 1, when the Unborn Victims of Violence Act takes effect.
Known as Ethen’s Law in remembrance of Ethen Nielsen, who was murdered with his mother, Jenna, in a 2007 stabbing, the law was passed in April to bring North Carolina statutes into line with those at the federal level. Like Laci and Conner’s Law, Ethen’s Law simply recognizes that when a pregnant woman is injured or killed there is more than one victim.
Some 36 states have laws that recognize the unlawful killing of an unborn child as homicide in at least some circumstances; 27 of them, like North Carolina, offer full-coverage.
Even though the law specifically notes abortion as an exception and does not apply to “acts committed by a pregnant woman with respect to her own unborn child,” it was opposed by pro-choice activists who seem to reject any law that recognizes a child in the womb as human.
“Fortunately, lawmakers looked past the ill-formed arguments of abortionists and learned from several families who testified last spring of the importance of recognizing that when a pregnant woman is hit by a drunken driver or attacked by an assailant, there are two victims,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Our hope is that this law, which takes effect next month, is never applied at all. But if and when it does happen, at least North Carolina statutes now provide a way for district attorneys to prosecute these crimes.”
Also taking effect Dec. 1 is Laura’s Law, which will increase the punishment for DWI offenders with three or more grossly aggravating factors, authorizing judges to require continuous alcohol monitoring in some cases and increase court costs for those driving while impaired.
The law is named in memory of 17-year-old Laura Fortenberry who was killed in Gaston County in 2010 when the car in which she was a passenger was hit by a drunken driver with three DWIs already on his record.
“Driving while impaired remains a serious problem in North Carolina, and even a first-time drinker who gets behind the wheel can take a life,” said Dr. Creech. “But one of the many good things about this bill is that it increases the use of technology to monitor those folks who are most likely to drink and drive so that law enforcement can at least have a fighting chance to prevent accidents by stopping these potential killers in their tracks.”
The Christian Action League supported the passage of both these laws during the last session, as well as dozens of others. To find out what other legislation takes effect Dec. 1, see the attached PDF.