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Coverage for unborn children up in air

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Lawmakers failed to act on a bill that would have amended Indiana's child wrongful death statute to cover unborn children, thus defeating it for this legislative session in its current form.

Authored by Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, Senate Bill 341 would have expanded the state statute on civil wrongful death claims to include fetuses that otherwise would have been considered "viable," or about the seven-month stage of pregnancy.

Becker has repeatedly sought this change since 2002, when the Indiana Supreme Court decided Bolin v. Wingert, 764 N.E. 2d 201 (Ind. 2002), and changed the scope of the state's Child Wrongful Death Act as it applies to unborn children. Justices determined that a 10-week-old fetus didn't fit the definition of "child" because the legislature that drafted the statute in 1881 only intended for babies born alive to be covered.

With this 2009 legislation, the Senate had voted 47-2 in favor of it in February and the bill made it through committee on the House side, but then it stalled before the full House when an amendment attempted to change its scope. The original bill would have covered any "viable" fetuses, but three separate amendments in recent weeks all pushed to include any "child in utero" - defined as a fetus at any stage of development who is carried in the womb. Those offering amendments were Sens. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville; Wes Culver, R-Goshen; and David Yarde, R-Garrett. Yarde also offered changes to include abortion language such as what isn't covered and what doctors must inform women about those procedures.

None of those senators' proposed changes were adopted, and the House sponsors Reps. Peggy Welch, D-Bloomington, and Trent VanHaaften, D-Mt. Vernon, withdrew the bill three times, most recently on Tuesday. SB 341 wasn't on the calendar for the deadline day Wednesday and is effectively dead in its current form. Neither Becker, Welch, nor VanHaaften could be immediately reached today for comment on the legislation.

However, that inaction comes as the General Assembly is passing similar language relating to criminal law coverage of unborn children. On April 6, the House voted 96-0 in favor of Senate Bill 236 increasing the penalty for fetal homicide relating to unborn children at any stage of development. That bill enhances the criminal feticide penalty from the current two- to six-year term to a six- to 20-year penalty, and also allows for an additional six- to 20-year prison term for anyone convicted of murder or attempted murder if they cause pregnancy loss. That bill has returned to the Senate for considerations of an amendment replacing references to the death of a child in utero with new language referring to the termination of a human pregnancy, matching existing language in the state's feticide law.

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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