Introduced Version House Bill 2331 History

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H. B. 2331

(By Delegates Ennis, Cann, Frich, Perry, Trump, Stemple and Ellem)

[Introduced February 14, 2005; referred to the

Committee on Health and Human Resources then the Judiciary.]

A BILL to amend the code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §61-2-30, relating to establishing the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act"; recognizing a fetus as a person for purposes of being a victim of certain crimes of violence against the person; specifying penalties; providing definitions and exceptions; certain convictions not barred; and severability.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

That the code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §61-2-30, to read as follows:


§61-2-30. Recognizing an embryo or fetus as a distinct unborn victim of certain crimes of violence against the person.

(a) This section may be known and cited as the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act".
(b) For the purposes of this article, the following definitions shall apply: Provided, That these definitions only apply for purposes of prosecution of unlawful acts under this section and may not otherwise be used: (1) To create or to imply that a civil cause of action exists; or (2) for purposes of argument in a civil cause of action, unless there has been a criminal conviction under this section.
(1) "Embryo" means the developing human in its early stages. The embryonic period commences at fertilization and continues to the end of the embryonic period and the beginning of the fetal period, which occurs eight weeks after fertilization, or ten weeks after the onset of the last menstrual period.
(2) "Fetus" means a developing human that has ended the embryonic period and thereafter continues to develop and mature until termination of the pregnancy or birth.

(c) For purposes of enforcing the provisions of sections one, four and seven of this article, subsections (a) and (c), section nine of said article, sections ten and ten-b of said article and subsection (a), section twenty-eight of said article, a pregnant woman and the embryo or fetus she is carrying in the womb constitute separate and distinct victims.
(d) Exceptions. -- The provisions of this section do not apply to:
(1) Acts committed during a legal abortion to which the pregnant woman, or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf, consented or for which the consent is implied by law;
(2) Acts or omissions by medical or health care personnel during or as a result of medical or health-related treatment or services, including, but not limited to, medical care, abortion, diagnostic testing, or fertility treatment;

(3) Acts or omissions by medical or health care personnel or scientific research personnel in performing lawful procedures involving embryos that are not in a stage of gestation in utero;

(4) Acts involving the use of force in lawful defense of self or another, but not an embryo or fetus; and
(5) Acts or omissions of a pregnant woman with respect to the embryo or fetus she is carrying.
(e) For purposes of the enforcement of the provisions of this section, a violation of the provisions of article two-i, chapter sixteen of this code shall not serve as a waiver of the protection afforded by the provisions of subdivision (1), subsection (d) of this section.
(f) Other convictions not barred. -- A prosecution for or conviction under this section is not a bar to conviction of or punishment for any other crime committed by the defendant arising from the same incident.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" to create a separate criminal cause of action for crimes of violence where a pregnant woman is carrying an unborn child.

§61-2-30 is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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