A state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would classify fetuses as people, saying two murder charges — not one — should have been filed against a man accused in the fatal shooting of a pregnant Brooklyn woman.
The proposal by Rep. T.R. Rowe, R-Trumbull, immediately came under fire from abortion rights advocates.
“I think this is yet another stealth tactic in the guise of the anti-choice people trying to say they are about violence against women,” said Elaine Werner, the executive director of the Connecticut National Abortion Rights Action League.
Rowe said the bill would be based on federal legislation designed to protect fetuses from violence.
“Essentially it would hold responsible someone who has murdered a woman who is with child,” Rowe said. “It would hold them responsible not for one homicide but two.”
Rowe’s announcement comes after a recent decision by a prosecutor to not charge a Plainfield man with a second count of murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend.
Jenny McMechen, 23, was 36 weeks pregnant when she was killed, police said.
Her boyfriend, Michael Latour, 24, of Plainfield was charged with one count of murder.
Assistant State’s Attorney Vincent Dooley said he researched the issue for several weeks and determined that the law does not support a second murder charge. He said there is a precedent that a child needs to be born alive to be considered a person.
Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, co-chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, questioned the effects of the proposed law. For instance, Lawlor said, could police arrest a pregnant woman for endangering her fetus if she smokes or has an alcoholic drink?
“If you’re going to say for the purposes of criminal law that a fetus is a person, you’ve now opened the door to interesting problems,” he said. “If you think about it for 10 minutes you realize how there would be all kinds of unintended consequences.”