Last week I reported on preborn twins who were killed during an IN bank robbery. Their mother, Katherin Shuffield, is pictured right with their father Jason.
News reports indicated the gunman (not yet caught) could not be charged with murder because the babies weren’t viable, as IN law stipulates. I questioned this, since the doctors decided to deliver the babies, meaning they thought the babies stood a better chance of surviving outside their mother’s uterus than inside… meaning they were potentially viable.
Mike Fichter, president of IN Right to Life, has emailed details…
The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a wrongful death suit cannot be brought for killing an unborn child, regardless of whether the baby is viable. This was in the wake of a drunk driving accident a few years back when a nearly full-term baby died.
Indiana law also does not define “viability” in reference to its fetal homicide or manslaughter laws. We believe we have identified a murder case in which the courts accepted viability as being 24 weeks.
It appears that fetal battery charges may be the only charges that can be brought.
Several legislators have worked throughout the last two years to correct these problems, but the core issue in Indiana is that our Democrat-controlled House kills every pro-life bill that it gets.
So while the babies died, IN law apparently will not support charging their killer with killing them, only hurting them.
WTHR is reporting today the tragedy has prompted legislative action:
Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi wants to expand fetal homicide laws to increase the penalties for the death of a fetus that may not have been viable outside the womb.
Brizzi’s proposal was prompted by last week’s bank robbery in which a pregnant teller was shot and wounded. Teller Katherin Shuffield was five months pregnant when the twins she was carrying died.
Under current law, the twins were not considered viable, so the person who shot her could not face a murder charge.
Currently the way Indiana’s fetal homicide law is written, the man who shot Shuffield could face as little as two years for the deaths of her unborn twins….
[T]he change would remove a condition that the fetus be viable, or be able to live outside the mother’s womb. Brizzi said, “If somebody takes the life of an unborn child, they should be charged with murder, period.”
If the law is changed the murder of an unborn fetus could carry a penalty of 45 to 65 years in prison. Currently Indiana is among 35 states with fetal homicide laws but not among the 18 states that allow strong penalties for killing an unborn child of any age.