Sixteen states and the federal government lack the kind of fetal homicide law used to charge the husband of Laci Peterson, the Modesto woman who disappeared last Christmas eve when she was eight months pregnant, stateline.org reportrs. The states are Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming.
Twenty-seven states ban fetal homicides, while seven states–Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia– add to the length of a prison sentence for conduct that terminates pregnancies or causes miscarriages.
State fetal homicide laws, which exclude legal abortions, have been an issue in the abortion debate. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, introduced in January by U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, and supported by anti-abortion groups, would give an embryo legal rights by making it an additional offense to kill or injure a fetus during a federal crime.