ALBANY — A man who stabbed his pregnant girlfriend to death, and killed her unborn fetus in the process, won’t be prosecuted for the death of the fetus because of a change in New York’s abortion laws.
Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, R-130 of Lyons, said that’s wrong — and, along with a fellow Assembly Republican, is introducing legislation in response.
Manktelow and Assemblyman Michael Reilly, R-62 of South Shore (Staten Island), have announced their intention to introduce legislation to create a first-degree assault charge under the state’s criminal codes if a person “punches, strikes or kicks a pregnant woman with the intent and cause to miscarry the fetus.” If the attack does not result in a miscarriage, the charge would be second-degree assault, the lawmakers said.
The legislation is in response to a case in New York City, where a suspect stabbed his pregnant girlfriend to death. The suspect initially was charged with second-degree abortion, as well as second-degree murder. However, the Queens County District Attorney’s Office dropped the abortion charge because of the recently enacted Reproductive Health Act, signed into law last month, which moves abortion from New York’s criminal codes to its public health umbrella.
In response, the Manktelow told the New York Post that under the recently enacted Reproductive Health Act, “you can take a life and escape any punishment. … How as a society can you allow that to happen?”
Manktelow said that the Reproductive Health Act has a multitude of issues he has problems with, but one in particular is the “lack of justice for pregnant domestic violence victims beaten to the point of miscarriages. Right now, someone could punch, kick or strike a pregnant woman, fully intending to cause her to miscarry her baby, and simply be charged with something as minimal as harassment. So women can be subjected to forced miscarriages without the law doing anything to bring justice to her, her family or her lost child. It’s as if the baby never existed or mattered but to the mother who lost them, they meant the world.”
Added Reilly: “New Yorkers are starting to see the foolish and unintended impact that hastily passed laws often have. We’re making it difficult for prosecutors to do their job by watering down the penal code, and we’re setting a very dangerous precedent by doing so.”
Reilly said the “intent now is to reinstate provisions to the penal code which would protect victims of domestic abuse and the unborn. I am hopeful that my colleagues on both sides of the chamber see this as a common sense fix for the legislature’s oversight on the matter in the first place.”
Manktelow voted against the Reproductive Health Act, which permits abortions at any stage in a pregnancy should it be deemed that the woman’s life or health are at risk, or if the fetus isn’t viable.
“If women have the right to abort a fetus at any stage in a pregnancy, they should also have the right to carry that child to full term and seek justice against anyone who prevents her from doing so,” Manktelow said.