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February 24, 2014

New Hampshire needs a fetal homicide law

To the editor:

The following could happen in anyone’s family.

Rep. Leon Rideout lost an unborn grandson in an auto accident. Ashlyn Rideout, his 22-year-old daughter in her eighth month of pregnancy, was in an auto accident. A 17-year-old, traveling at a high rate of speed, broadsided Ashlyn’s car. Ashlyn was seriously injured, but her unborn baby died. The young man who caused the accident was charged with vehicular assault for injuring Ashlyn, but there is no charge for the death of her unborn baby because New Hampshire doesn’t have a law to cover this.

Rep. Rideout introduced HB1503, a bill that would provide justice for an unborn baby killed in an assault or accident.

This is not the first time an unborn child has been killed and the state had to treat it like there was no death because of the lack of a law. In 2009, one such case went to the New Hampshire Supreme Court on appeal and one of the findings was, “Should the Legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”

The court found our laws deficient and asked that the Legislature remedy the situation and HB1503 does just that. HB1503 will not affect Roe v. Wade and is carefully written to avoid any attempt to change the state’s abortion laws.

Over 30 states now have fetal homicide laws and New Hampshire needs one. HB1503 is going to be voted on by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Please ask them to pass HB1503, with no amendments.

Joan Espinola

Salem, N.H.

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