According to the National Conference of State Legislators, taking the life of an unborn child in an attack on that child’s mother is a crime in at least 38 states. When committed on federally-owned property and in certain other instances, such acts are also punishable as federal crimes under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004. Unfortunately, no similar law exists in the State of New York. At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we’d like to change that.
The proposed Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) (S.2532-Ritchie/A.6502-Cusick) would allow the death of an unborn child resulting from a crime against a pregnant woman to be punished as a crime against that child. Current state law punishes assailants for crimes against pregnant women (including assaults that cause late-term miscarriages), but does not treat unborn children as crime victims. The UVVA would not affect the legality of abortion in New York.
Recent news demonstrates the need for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Last week, a Rensselaer County jury convicted the man who killed 19-year-old Vanessa Milligan of Lansingburgh, New York and her unborn baby. Ms. Milligan, who was nine months pregnant at the time of her death, was strangled by her ex-boyfriend, Gabriel Vega, in June of 2014; Vega set fire to Ms. Milligan’s residence to conceal his crime. While Vega was acquitted of second-degree murder, he was convicted of first-degree manslaughter and other crimes; he currently awaits sentencing. Because of the lack of an Unborn Victims of Violence Act, Vega could not be charged with manslaughter in the death of his unborn daughter.
New York law should protect innocent human life whether a person is born or unborn. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act would be an important step in the right direction.