LANSING (WWJ) – Legislation requiring a judge to count a fetus as a victim passed the Michigan House this week.
The legislation, introduced by state Rep. Pamela Hornberger, aims to ensure unborn children are considered victims if they are hurt, killed or placed in danger during the commission of a felony.
Current sentencing guidelines instruct the court to count each person placed in danger as a victim. However, the instructions do not define the terms “victim” or “person.” The ambiguity of the rules led to a question of whether a fetus qualifies as a person or a victim. The Michigan Court of Appeals recently addressed the issue, determining an unborn child was a victim.
Hornberger’s bill spells out the court’s decision in state law by clarifying that an embryo or fetus must be considered a crime victim for the purpose of sentencing guidelines.
“It’s time to eliminate any uncertainty,” Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township, said in a statement. “Unborn children hurt or killed during the commission of a crime are victims and they deserve justice.”
Republicans said the bill is simply codifying a Court of Appeals case. Most Democrats voted against the bill, saying the case law already allows judges to consider a fetus as a victim and now state law will require it.