Ethen’s law takes effect Thursday

First Posted: 11/28/2011

RALEIGH An unborn child who dies when its mother is murdered will also be considered a murder victim under a state law that goes into effect on Thursday.

The Unborn Victims of Violence, or Ethens Law, is one of two laws that becomes effective Dec. 1. The law, which is named for a boy who was never born because his mother was murdered when she was eight and a half months pregnant, will allow district attorneys in future similar cases to file murder charges against a suspect for both the murder of the mother and the unborn child. Currently, a suspect can only be charged in the mothers murder and not the unborn childs.

A version of Ethens Law has been in a General Assembly committee for more than 25 years, according to statement from state Rep. Dale Folwell. Although the state has been slow to act on the pending legislation, the federal government has a similar law in place protecting women on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Ft. Bragg and other federal property located in North Carolina. California also has a version of the law that was passed in the 1960s after Charles Manson orchestrated the murders of Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at her death, and several others.

You would think that after waiting 25 years for a bill to become law that we would be ecstatic, but our real goal would be for this law not to be used because it would mean pregnant women in North Carolina are not being harmed, said Folwell, a Republican from Forsyth County.

Another bill to become effective Thursday is known as the Run and Your Done bill, legislation that officials believe will protect law enforcement officers and innocent bystanders when a suspect tries to elude being stopped by the police. The bill will allow county sheriffs to confiscate any vehicle that is used to elude law enforcement officers when they attempt to stop it.

Run and Youre Done provides another strong incentive for people to pull over when they see blue lights behind them and not endanger innocent people and law enforcement officers in a high-speed chase, Folwell said.

Attempts to reach all four members of Robeson Countys state legislative delegation Reps. Garland Pierce, Charles Graham, G.L. Pridgen and Sen. Michael Walters for this story were unsuccessful.

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