Assemblyman Brian Manktelow (R,C,I,Ref-Lyons) and Assemblyman Michael Reilly (R-South Shore) announced the intention to introduce legislation to protect not only women who are victims of domestic violence but their unborn children. This legislation would make it assault in the first degree if a person punches, strikes or kicks a pregnant woman with the intent and cause to miscarry the fetus. If a person does the same but does not cause the woman to miscarry the fetus, it would be assault in the second degree.
“The Reproductive Health Act has a multitude of issues but one in particular is the lack of justice for pregnant domestic violence victims beaten to the point of miscarriages,” said Manktelow. “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.”
This issue has already presented itself in a recent case in Queens County where prosecutors were only able to charge a man for the death of his girlfriend but not for the death of the five-month old fetus she was carrying.
“New Yorkers are starting to see the foolish and unintended impact that hastily passed laws often have,” said Reilly. “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 added, “Our 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.”
This legislation comes weeks after the passing of 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. Late-term abortions can be performed by medical professionals, regardless of their specific medical background, as long as they are trained to perform a late-term abortion.
“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,” said Manktelow.