A Colorado jury convicted 35-year-old Dynel Lane of attempted first-degree murder for her brutal attack on Michelle Wilkins, 27, who was seven months pregnant with a baby girl.
Last March, Lane lured Wilkins to her home with a Craigslist post advertising free maternity clothes. Once in the basement, Lane pinned Wilkins to a bed, strangled her, and cut her baby out of the womb with two kitchen knives.
Wilkins lived, but her unborn daughter, Aurora, did not. Lane was also found guilty of unlawful termination of a pregnancy, but prosecutors did not have legal grounds to charge her with murder in Aurora’s death.
One of 12 states that don’t allow prosecution for fetal homicide, Colorado has been a battleground for pro-life advocates.
On Thursday, Feb. 23 , prosecutors asked Chief District Court Judge Maria Berkenkotter if the doctor who performed the autopsy of Aurora could testify. Defense attorney Jennifer Beck argued, “She is not a victim in this case. She’s simply not an issue in the legal sense.” Berkenkotter sided with Beck and did not allow the doctor to testify.
Activists have worked unsuccessfully for years to give unborn babies in Colorado more legal protection. In 2008 and 2010, a group called Personhood Colorado put initiatives on the ballot to grant personhood to unborn babies. Both attempts failed. In 2013, following the 2012 death of unborn baby Brady Surovik, Colorado passed the Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act, which allows prosecutors to fine a criminal who harms an unborn child. The act does not apply to abortion providers or the pregnant woman herself.
In Surovik‘s case, the drunk driver who smashed into Heather Surovik‘s car when she was eight months pregnant was merely charged with damaging her vehicle.
In the fall of 2014, Personhood Colorado put the Colorado Definition of Person and Child Initiative, or Amendment 67 on the ballot. The initiative, which defined an unborn human as a “person” or “child,” was defeated by 65 percent of voters.
Last May, Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman‘s fetal homicide bill, the Offenses against Unborn Children Act, died in a Democratic-controlled Senate committee.
Colorado Right to Life tried a new tactic this year with a single-sentence bill that does not mention abortion, but allows prosecution of someone who injures or kills “an unborn member of the species Homo sapiens.” The bill died in committee earlier this month.
Bob Enyart, a spokesperson for Colorado Right to Life, said the state’s pro-life movement must battle not only the strong pro-abortion voice, but also members of the Republican Party: “The only fetal homicide bills that the Republican establishment will tolerate are ones that affirm Planned Parenthood‘s business of abortion.”
Even if a fetal homicide bill did pass the House and Senate, he said, “The governor would of course veto the bill, but God doesn‘t hold us accountable for the results, just if we are faithful.”
— by Samantha Gobba