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House unanimously passes bill that would expand charges in crimes resulting in death of fetus

Photo from scene where Brittany McNew was fatally shot. The man accused of killing the pregnant teen wasn’t charged with murder in the death of her unborn child. But the Indiana House unanimously passed a bill that would change that.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Under current Indiana law, a person accused of killing a fetus can only be charged if the fetus was considered medically viable or could live outside the womb.

But on Tuesday, the Indiana House unanimously passed a bill that would change that.

Depending on the circumstances of the crime, Senate Bill 203 would allow prosecutors to charge the suspect with murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or feticide for the loss of a fetus at any stage of development.

According to the bill’s sponsor, State Rep. Mike Speedy, expanding these charges could add 6 to 20 years to a sentence.

“Last year, Brittany McNew, an Indianapolis woman, was fatally injured during a drive-by shooting. Because she was less than 24 weeks pregnant, the gunman was only charged with her murder and aggravated battery of the unborn child. Regardless of the stage of Brittany’s pregnancy, the family lost two loved ones from that murder and mourned the loss of two lives,” Speedy said.

The legislation would not apply to a lawfully performed abortion.

If enacted, this proposal would make Indiana the 24th state to have such a law. Speedy said this legislation does not apply to a woman who lawfully terminates her own pregnancy.

Senate Bill 203 is now eligible for further consideration by the Senate.