By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
CHARLOTTE — A murder case in Charlotte that has police in an uproar over a dropped rape charge points, once again, to North Carolina’s need for a fetal homicide law.
Earlier this month, Mecklenburg County prosecutors dismissed a statutory rape charge against Royce Mitchell, the 36-year-old adoptive brother of shooting victim Tiffany Wright, 15, who was pregnant when she was gunned down at her bus stop Sept. 14. Although she had told her foster mother and a detective that Mitchell had sex with her and interviews performed during the investigation revealed that he had tried to pressure her into an abortion, prosecutors said without Wright alive to testify there would be no case since DNA tests showed the baby was not Mitchell’s.
Released from prison in 2007 after serving time on a drug conviction, Mitchell was charged on the day Wright was murdered with statutory rape and taking indecent liberties with her. Police say they still consider him a “person of interest” in the murder, but no charges have been drawn.
No matter who is ultimately arrested for Wright’s death, there will be no charges in the death of her baby girl, whom doctors delivered but were unable to save. That’s because North Carolina remains one of just 13 states without a fetal homicide law.
“As President George W. Bush explained when he signed the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act in 2004, ‘Justice demands a full accounting under the law.'” wrote Dr. Jameson Taylor in an article for the Civitas Institute. “A full accounting requires that every life and every victim be recognized under the law.”
Abortion proponents in the North Carolina General Assembly fight against any mention of fetal homicide for fear that recognizing an unborn baby as alive and deserving of protection will in some way rob a woman of her right to choose abortion. Yet in North Carolina there have been seven fetal homicides just within the last three years.
Tiffany Wright – (2009) Charlotte, NC / 8 months pregnant
Misty Lynn Carter – (2009) Buncome County,NC/ 6 weeks pregnant/
Megan Touma – (2008) Fayetteville, NC / 7 months pregnant
Lucy Johnson – (2008) Gastonia, NC / 15 weeks pregnant
Ebony Robinson – (2007) Hillsborough, NC / 8 months. pregnant
Jennifer Nielsen – (2007) Raleigh, NC / 8 months pregnant
Maria Lauterbach – (2007) Jacksonville, NC / 8 months pregnant
“What about the choice of those women who would carry their babies to term? Do we just turn our backs when someone decides to take her choice away and take the life that is within her?” asked the Rev. Creech. “Certainly not. Killing a woman and her unborn baby should be a double homicide. Two victims, two charges. Anything other than this falls short of justice.”
National polls show most Americans agree. When asked “If a criminal assaults a woman who carries an unborn child, does that crime have two victims or only one? Some 80 percent said two.”
Although having the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, known as “Laci and Conner’s Law” is helpful, each state needs its own law according to Mary Spaulding Balch, state legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.
“The great majority of violent crimes are governed by state law, not federal law,” she said.
Rep. Mark Hilton (R-Catawba) and more than 50 of his peers signed on to an Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H 890) last session, but the bill got a serial referral (sent to three different committees) starting with the Judiciary I Committee and was never heard from again.
“Its not just that the legislation was never heard in any committee,” said Rev. Creech. “A serial referral is sometimes the way the House leadership says there’s no chance this legislation is ever going to pass.”
North Carolina Right to Life and other proponents of the Unborn Victims bill had to spend time last session fending off a push for a bill that would have increased criminal penalties for injuring a pregnant woman, but would not have acknowledged the fetus.
Injury to Pregnant Woman “would say to the victims’ families that there was no second victim,” wrote N.C. Right to Life President Barbara Holt on her organization’s Web site. “This perpetuates the horrendous injustice already committed against them.”
Former N.C. Rep. Trudi Walend was passionate about protecting the unborn from violence during her time in Raleigh and filed similar legislation prior to Hilton’s bill. She said bills had been filed for the five terms prior as well, but had never gotten a hearing.
Rev. Creech said, “Such stonewalling by certain NC lawmakers on issues of this magnitude should cause every Christian in North Carolina to look upward and plead with heaven: ‘How long, Oh Lord? How long?’ North Carolina desperately needs a fetal homicide law.”
Read Rev. Creech’s 2007 op-ed piece, “A Baby’s Blood Cries Out”