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State Senator Steve Newman announced recently that the Division of Legislative Services has begun drafting legislation to ensure that a life cannot be legally taken after a child is born not withstanding its connection to the umbilical cord.
The bill will amend Section 18.2 of the Code of Virginia, which is the criminal code. Newman stated, “It is difficult to believe that the current Code could have such a flaw that would allow anyone to take the life of a born child. While I will not comment at this time on the case in Campbell County, it is abundantly clear that Virginians will demand a legislative cure to this loophole. I have consulted with the Attorney General Elect, Kent Cuccinelli; Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney, Neil Vener; Campbell County Sheriff, Terry Gaddy and the investigator in the case, Tracy Emerson. All have indicated their full support for this legislation.”
Sheriff Gaddy stated, “The entire law enforcement community in Campbell County has been affected by this case. Our office is dedicated to upholding the laws of the Commonwealth, however in this case the law is severely flawed and let our people down. I am pleased that Senator Newman has worked with our office and the Commonwealth Attorney on this matter. We will dedicate the resources of the Campbell County Sheriff’s office to get this law changed during the 2010 legislative session.”
Campbell County Commonwealth’s Attorney Neil S. Vener said, “I have spoken with Legislative Services about methods of writing this Bill for Senator Newman which captures the need to protect innocent newborns without entangling the legislature in broader issues that have been problematic in the past. If there ever was a case that underlines the need to change this law it is this one. I have indicated to Senator Newman that I will be available to appear before the committees of the Senate and House as needed to pass this bill.”
Next, Senator Newman discussed this matter with the incoming Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli who has agreed to provide legal support for this bill. Cuccinelli said, “ I have spoken to Senator Newman about the tragic and appalling circumstances of the baby’s death, and I certainly will make the resources of the Attorney General’s office available to help make sure this can never happen again. This situation cries out for action, and I will support efforts to fix what appears to be a horrific loophole in our laws.”
Newman indicated that while the issue will have some legal hurdles the General Assembly will be faced with a Code section that today is unquestionably wrong, and one that cannot stand unless we accede to the fact that murder is a legal option in the case of a newborn. Newman said, “The case law today indicates that three items must be established for prosecution, (1) the child must have been born alive; (2) the child had an independent and separate existence from its mother; and (3) the accused was the criminal agent that caused the infant’s death. Tenets one and three are not problematic, however the item two must be altered for Virginia to have a reasonable law to protect children in the Commonwealth.”
“On a personal side, as a father my heart goes out to the family in this case. No amount of correction to the Code will bring this child back; my thoughts and prayers are with them,” said Newman.
Senator Newman indicated that Delegate Kathy Byron and Delegate Ben Cline will assist with this legislation in the House of Delegates; Senator Robert Hurt has agreed to be Co-Chief Patron of the Senate legislation. Newman will also immediately begin garnering by-partisan support for the bill and hopes to have it on Governor McDonnell’s desk shortly after mid-session.