senate Bill S1950

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Provides that either a person or an unborn child in any stage of gestation may be the victim of an assault

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 08, 2014 referred to codes
Jan 09, 2013 referred to codes

Co-Sponsors

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S1950 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A3128
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Penal Law
Laws Affected:
Add §§120.75 & 120.80, amd §§125.00 & 125.05, Pen L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Sessions:
2011-2012: S4347, A1673
2009-2010: S4897, A2034

S1950 - Bill Texts

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Provides that either a person or an unborn child in any stage of gestation may be the victim of an assault or homicide; also states situations when it does not constitute an assault on an unborn child such as during the course of an otherwise lawful abortion, during normal medical treatment or by the pregnant woman; defines "person" to include any human being who is born and is alive or an unborn child at any stage of gestation.

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BILL NUMBER:S1950

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to the unborn
victims of violence act

PURPOSE: To provide the tools necessary to bring justice to those who
commit acts of violence against mothers and their unborn children.

SUMMARY:

Section 1 outlines the legislative intent.

Section 2 gives this bill the short title: "unborn victims of violence
act"

Section 3 adds a new section (120.75 to Penal Law to make a new defi-
nition of "person" applicable to the sections addressing assault in the
third degree, assault in the second degree, assault in the first degree,
vehicular assault in the second degree, vehicular assault in the first
degree, gang assault in the second degree, gang assault in the first
degree, and aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old.
The new definition adds an unborn child at any stage of gestation.

Section 3 also adds a new section (120.60) that, for purposes of Article
120 of the Penal Law, exempts from prosecution individuals performing
consensual and justifiable abortions, individuals treating the mother or
child medically, and mothers (other than mothers performing self
abortions).

Section 4 redefines "homicide" in section 125.00 of the Penal Law to
include conduct which causes death to an unborn child at any stage of
gestation, to include murder in the first degree, murder in the second
degree, vehicular manslaughter in the first degree, and vehicular
manslaughter in the second degree.

Section 4 also states for purposes of Article 125.00 of the Penal Law,
an exemption from prosecution for individuals performing consensual and
justifiable abortions, individuals treating the mother or child
medically, and mothers (other than mothers performing self abortions).

Section 5 amends the definition provided by section 125.05 of the Penal
Law for "person," when referring to the victim of a homicide, an unborn
child at any stage of gestation.

Section 6 This act shall take effect on the first of November next
succeeding the date on which it shall have become law.

JUSTIFICATION: The Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System at the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the pregnancy-as-
sociated homicide ratio was 1.7 per 100,000 live births in the United
States between 1991 and 1999. Twenty percent of the deaths of pregnant

women are caused by homicide making it the leading cause of death among
pregnant women outside medical complications.

When murderers knowingly attack pregnant women, they knowingly target
more than the mother's life.

The Article of the New York Penal Law that deals with homicide,
abortion, and related offenses currently defines "person" as a human
being who has been born alive and "homicide" as causing the death of a
person or unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more
than twenty-four weeks.

These two definitions have left it impossible for prosecutors and the
courts to use the full extent of the law to punish those who viciously
and knowingly take the life of an unborn child and/or its mother.

This bill empowers New York's prosecutors to seek justice for those who
deliberately attack mothers and murder their unborn children by changing
the definitions of "person" and "homicide" to include unborn children at
any stage of gestation.

As is outlined in the bill's first section, the intent of this legis-
lation is to close the loophole for killers of unborn children. It is
not the intent of this legislation to stifle a woman's right to a
consensual abortion or to medical treatment. As such, the bill specif-
ically provides protections for mothers consenting to an abortion and to
doctors who treat pregnant women.

If we are to claim that we have a justice system that is truly just,
it's paramount that New York State joins the thirty-one states that are
now providing protections and justice for pregnant women and their
unborn children who axe victims of violence.

By enacting this legislation we send a clear message to perpetrators of
violence against pregnant women and unborn children that we are serious
about protecting New York's mothers.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

S.4347 of 2012- Referred to Codes S.4347 of 2011- Referred to Codes
S.4897 of 2010- Referred to Codes S.4897 of 2009- Referred to Codes
S.3117 of 2008- Referred to Codes S.3117 of 2007- Referred to Codes
S.2515A of 2006- Referred to Codes S.2515 of 2005- Referred to Codes
S.403 of 2004 -Referred to Codes S.403 of 2003 - Passed Senate S.57B of
2002 - Passed Senate

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the state.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the first of November
next succeeding the date on which it shall have become law.

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  1950

                       2013-2014 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 9, 2013
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  RITCHIE,  BALL,  FARLEY,  GOLDEN,  LANZA, LARKIN,
  LIBOUS, LITTLE, MAZIARZ, O'MARA,  YOUNG,  ZELDIN  --  read  twice  and
  ordered  printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on
  Codes

AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation  to  the  unborn  victims  of
  violence act

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1.   Legislative intent.   The legislature  hereby  finds  and
declares  that  a  significant  loophole  exists  in  state law, denying
protection to pregnant women and certain children.  Currently, an offen-
der may not be held criminally responsible for  the  harm  caused  to  a
child unless that child has first been born alive.  Therefore, an assai-
lant who shoots a woman who is seven months pregnant, and kills both the
woman and her child, may only be charged with the homicide of the mother
since the infant is not considered a legal victim of the crime.
  New  York  state  policy lags behind most states in this area of crime
victims' protection.   Thirty-one  states  now  provide  protection  and
justice  for pregnant women and their unborn children who are victims of
violence.
  The legislature further finds and  declares  that  current  statistics
demonstrate  that  domestic  abuse  and violence against women increases
during pregnancy.  It is estimated that one in five women will be abused
during pregnancy.  A study in the Journal of the American Medical  Asso-
ciation  found  that  in the state of Maryland, a pregnant woman is more
likely to be a victim of a homicide than to  die  of  any  other  cause.
Thus, rather than pregnancy being a peaceful time of preparation and the
growth  of a healthy child, for many women it can be a time of violence,
grief and loss.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD00780-01-3

S. 1950                             2

  Compounding this tragedy is the loophole in current law, which  denies
effective  protection  and  remedy  to women and their children.  When a
woman makes a conscious choice to keep her baby and has the choice viol-
ently taken away from her by a violent perpetrator, justice demands that
someone  be  punished  for that crime.   Indeed, mothers will bury their
baby's body and mark the grave for their child for  the  rest  of  their
lives, but New York law tells them their loved one never existed.
  The  legislature  does not intend this act to apply to any abortion to
which a woman has consented, to any act of the mother herself or to  any
form of medical treatment.  The legislature finds that the current legal
right  to abortion does not protect and does not confer on an assailant,
a third-party unilateral right to destroy an unborn child.
  The legislature recognizes that a federal "unborn victims of violence"
law was enacted in 2004, yet believes the law to be limited in  applying
only to unborn children injured or killed during the course of specified
federal crimes of violence.
  It  is  the  intent of the legislature that the affirmative right of a
pregnant woman to carry her child to term be protected, and that  perpe-
trators  of  crimes  against pregnant women and their unborn children be
held accountable for their crimes.
  S 2. Short title.  This act shall be known as and may be cited as  the
"unborn victims of violence act".
  S  3.  The  penal law is amended by adding two new sections 120.75 and
120.80 to read as follows:
S 120.75 ASSAULT AND RELATED OFFENSES; DEFINITION.
  THE FOLLOWING DEFINITION IS APPLICABLE  TO  SECTIONS  120.00,  120.03,
120.04, 120.05, 120.06, 120.07, 120.10 AND 120.12 OF THIS ARTICLE:
  "PERSON,"  WHEN  REFERRING  TO  THE  VICTIM OF ANY ASSAULT, AGGRAVATED
ASSAULT OR VEHICULAR ASSAULT, MEANS A HUMAN BEING WHO HAS BEEN BORN  AND
IS ALIVE, OR AN UNBORN CHILD AT ANY STAGE OF GESTATION.
S 120.80 ASSAULT AND RELATED OFFENSES; DEFINED.
  NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO PERMIT THE PROSECUTION:
  1.  OF ANY PERSON FOR CONDUCT RELATING TO A JUSTIFIABLE ABORTIONAL ACT
FOR WHICH THE CONSENT OF THE PREGNANT WOMAN HAS BEEN OBTAINED;
  2. OF ANY PERSON FOR ANY MEDICAL TREATMENT OF THE  PREGNANT  WOMAN  OR
HER UNBORN CHILD; OR
  3.  OF ANY WOMAN WITH RESPECT TO HER UNBORN CHILD EXCEPT A PROSECUTION
FOR VIOLATING SECTION 125.50 OR 125.55 OF THIS TITLE.
  S 4. Section 125.00 of the penal law is amended to read as follows:
S 125.00  Homicide defined.
  1. Homicide means conduct which causes the death of  a  person  or  an
unborn  child [with which a female has been pregnant for more than twen-
ty-four weeks] AT ANY STAGE OF GESTATION under circumstances  constitut-
ing murder IN THE FIRST DEGREE, MURDER IN THE SECOND DEGREE, manslaught-
er  in  the  first  degree, manslaughter in the second degree, VEHICULAR
MANSLAUGHTER IN THE FIRST DEGREE, VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER IN  THE  SECOND
DEGREE OR criminally negligent homicide, abortion in the first degree or
self-abortion in the first degree.
  2.  NOTHING  IN  THIS  ARTICLE SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO PERMIT THE PROSE-
CUTION:
  (A) OF ANY PERSON FOR CONDUCT RELATING TO A JUSTIFIABLE ABORTIONAL ACT
FOR WHICH THE CONSENT OF THE PREGNANT WOMAN OR A  PERSON  AUTHORIZED  BY
LAW TO ACT ON HER BEHALF, HAS BEEN OBTAINED OR FOR WHICH SUCH CONSENT IS
IMPLIED BY LAW;
  (B) OF ANY PERSON FOR ANY MEDICAL TREATMENT OF A PREGNANT WOMAN OR HER
UNBORN CHILD; OR

S. 1950                             3

  (C) OF ANY WOMAN WITH RESPECT TO HER UNBORN CHILD EXCEPT A PROSECUTION
FOR VIOLATING SECTION 125.50 OR 125.55 OF THIS ARTICLE.
  S  5.  Subdivision  1 of section 125.05 of the penal law is amended to
read as follows:
  1.  "Person," when referring to the victim  of  a  homicide,  means  a
human  being  who  has  been born and is alive OR AN UNBORN CHILD AT ANY
STAGE OF GESTATION.
  S 6. This act shall take effect on the first of November next succeed-
ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

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