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[s31] Merritt's Bill to Enhance Penalties for Feticide Passes Indiana House
Start Date: 4/6/2009 All Day
End Date: 4/6/2009
Entry Description
STATEHOUSE (April 6, 2009) -Legislation that would increase the penalty for fetal homicide was approved by the Indiana House of Representatives today 95-0. Under Senate Bill 236, additional charges would apply if a fetus is killed at any stage of pregnancy during the commission of a crime.

State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) authored SB 236 in response to last year's shooting of a pregnant bank teller that resulted in the death of her unborn twins.

Merritt, a father of twins, said this proposal would enhance the penalty for a person who commits murder or attempted murder where the unborn is concerned. In the case of the bank teller tragedy, it would have subjected the offender to an additional term of imprisonment of six to 20 years because two unborn twins were lost.

SB 236 also increases the penalty for feticide from a Class C felony to a Class B felony, Merritt said.

"Many of my constituents are customers of the Huntington Bank and frequent the neighborhood where the hold-up and shooting occurred," Merritt said. "Plus, as the father of twins, this story really hit home with me."

According to Merritt, current law allows murder charges to be filed only if the fetus has reached seven months gestation. The twins carried by bank teller Katherin Shuffield of Indianapolis were only five months gestation when they were killed. At present, the only charge which could be filed against the shooter is feticide, a lesser penalty of Class C felony, Merritt said.

Nationwide, 37 states have feticide laws, and 18 of those consider the killing of a fetus at any age to be murder, Merritt said.

"It's time Indiana catches up with the rest of the country on this important issue," Merritt said.

Merritt has long been a champion of protecting our most vulnerable citizens. In 2000, he authored Indiana's Safe Haven Law, which allows parents who feel unable to care for an infant less than 45 days old to leave the child with staff at a designated safe haven location with no questions asked. Those locations are hospitals, fire stations and police departments.

Merritt represents Senate District 31 that includes portions of Lawrence, Warren and Center townships in Marion County.


Contact Information:
Name: Carrie Zapfe
Phone: 317-232-7184
Entry Type:
Press Release
Agency Name
Senate Democratic Caucus

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