Maryland's House and Senate are again considering legislation to expand our state's fetal homicide law to protect unborn children as young as 8 weeks development.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings committee heard testimony Friday, Feb. 22 on the Senate version of the bill (SB 561). The House Health and Government Operations Committee will hear testimony on its version of the bill (HB 757) on March 8.
The state first took up this legislation last year, when the family of slain Howard County teacher Laura Wallen, sought to change Maryland law after Laura and her unborn son Reid were killed by Laura’s then-boyfriend Tyler Tessier but the state was unable to bring charges for the death of Reid because he was only about 14 weeks in development. The bill is known as Laura and Reid's Law.
“Laura and Reid’s law is an important step for Maryland to protect women who choose to have children only to have their children taken away from them through domesticnviolence,” said Therese Hessler, associate director at Maryland Catholic Conference.
Mark Wallen, father of Laura and grandfather of Reid, told reporters on Thursday, Feb. 21, that while the bill will not bring more closure for all his family has suffered as a result of the loss of Laura and Reid, if the bill can bring justice to just one family, it is worth all the effort.
Homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women, and in Maryland, pregnant women are victimized at a rate that is 10 times the national average.
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