The Iowa House has voted to establish a murder charge for the crime of killing an unborn child. Republican Representative George Eichhorn of Stratford was among those who supported the bill. Eichhorn says the bill was about whether this state of Iowa would protect an unborn baby’s life if someone “snuffs it out and takes it away.” Eichhorn says the bill’s something that most Iowans support. Republican Representative Dan Boddicker of Tipton says the bill’s about justice.Boddicker says even if the family recognizes there are two victims when a pregnant woman is murdered in Iowa today, current law only lets prosecutors seek justice for one victim — the woman. The bill passed on a 63 to 36 vote. Critics say it’s already a felony to murder a fetus, it’s just not called murder, and say the bill’s really seeking to have a fetus defined, in law, as a person. Democrat Representative Mary Mascher of Iowa City was among its opponents. Mascher says the bill is at odds with the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion because the court ruled the word person does not include the unborn. Mascher says the bill defines a person as a person at any stage of development. She says that means separate protection is now given to a fertilized egg, embryo or fetus. Democrat Representative Robert Hogg of Cedar Rapids also objected to the bill.Hogg says “there’s no need to change current law” because there’s no case to be made that such crimes haven’t been prosecuted in Iowa. He says bill backers are just “trying to change the semantics” so the crime against the unborn will be called murder rather than a felony. Supporters of the bill say it specifically says the new law on the murder of an unborn child will not apply to abortion. Several other states are passing similar legislation in response to the Laci Peterson case in California in which the woman and her unborn baby were killed, allegedly by Laci’s husband, Scott. A federal law was just passed last week.
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