Pro-Life Friends: We have received a couple of copies of the form letter the governor’s office has sent to many of you who wrote or called supporting the Laci Peterson bill. Below is a copy of an editorial responding to it. Please feel free to pass this on to friends and family.
Governor Freudenthal Misleads Constituents on Veto of Laci Peterson Bill
by Steven Ertelt, President
Right to Life of Wyoming
Cheyenne, WY — Last month, Governor Dave Freudenthal vetoed SF 118, a measure approved by the state legislature that would protect pregnant women and their unborn children from acts of violence.
The bill would allow prosecutors to charge criminals with two crimes when they kill a pregnant woman like Laci Peterson and her unborn child.
In a form letter Freudenthal’s office disseminated at the end of last week to constituents who contacted him supporting the bill, the governor’s policy analyst Robert Black misleads voters about the reasons why the governor vetoed the bill.
Black cites the Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion decision Roe v. Wade and says “SF 118 may also be unconstitutional” because the bill, “had it become law, would have implicitly defined any unborn fetus as a person.”
However, in a meeting I had with him before the veto, I told Governor Freudenthal that state and federal courts have upheld similar laws in 11 different states. Laws like SF 118 have never been found unconstitutional for any reason, including decisions relating to the landmark abortion case.
There is a unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in 1987 regarding a similar Georgia law where an attorney for a man, Richard James Smith, Sr., convicted under the law sued saying the statute conflicted with Roe.
“The proposition that Smith relies upon in Roe v. Wade — that an unborn child is not a ‘person’ within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment — is simply immaterial in the present context to whether a state can prohibit the destruction of a fetus,” the appeals court ruled.
There is also the 1989 case of Webster v. Reproductive Health Services case in which the Supreme Court refused to invalidate a Missouri statute that declares that “the life of each human being begins at conception.”
The high court nullified a lower court’s ruling and held that a state is free to enact laws that recognize unborn children, so long as the state does not include restrictions on abortion that Roe forbids. SF 118 contains no reference to or restrictions on abortion.
The governor is misleading constituents in saying SF 118 would be unconstitutional because of the Roe decision.
Governor Freudenthal is an attorney and he should understand as well as anyone that courts have always upheld laws like SF 118. Courts have also upheld laws giving unborn children rights in a variety or circumstances that don’t conflict with Roe — including inheriting property, burial rights, and stopping executions until a pregnant woman on death row delivers the baby.
To send letters statewide to constituents erroneously claiming the bill is potentially unconstitutional in the face of Roe proves Governor Freudenthal is more concerned about abortion than he is protecting the women and children of our state.
In the letter, Black also says “there are already provisions in Wyoming law for protecting pregnant women” and points to existing statute giving a penalty enhancement for attacking a pregnant woman. As the governor said in his veto message, Black suggests that the legislature increase these penalties.
However, the sentence enhancement, considered a hate crimes provision by many, fails to address the issue.
Current Wyoming law fails to hold criminals accountable for killing the unborn child. We know that when Laci Peterson was killed, her son Conner was killed as well. There were two victims, two crimes and Scott Peterson was charged with two murders under California law. We need a similar law here.
Criminals should definitely be charged with attacking a pregnant mother, but they should also face repercussions for killing her baby as well. Failing to charge them will killing the baby is a travesty of justice and slap in the face for Wyoming women and children.
Right to Life of Wyoming would be working with legislators next year to pass the Laci Peterson bill again and to alter the language of the bill to address the governor’s concerns.
Posted by: Scott | Thursday, April 5, 2007
Gov. Dave Misleads Wyo On SF 118
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