Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release:
March 26, 2008
Sen. Debbe Leftwich
Sen. Leftwich Bill Creating Harsher Penalties
for Attacks on Pregnant Women Clears first Senate Hurdle
strengthen penalties for assaulting a pregnant woman has cleared its
first hurdle in the State Senate. Sen. Debbe Leftwich is Senate
author of House Bill 1897, which was approved Wednesday by the
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary.
“Domestic violence is the number one cause of death for pregnant
women. Oklahoma needs to do more to address such violence before it
results in the death of a woman and her baby,” said Leftwich,
Leftwich said recent headlines underscored that grim statistic. Eric
Kennedy Phan is awaiting trial in the murder of 20-year-old Lauren
Barnes and her unborn baby. Last November, Phan talked Barnes into
meeting her at a Bethany Park after she had told his girlfriend he
was the father of her unborn child.
“Lauren had told her little sister she was scared he would ‘blow
up,’” Leftwich said. “The last her sister ever heard from her was a
text message that said ‘Oh God, I think he just pulled up.’ Lauren’s
body was found a week later in a shallow grave.”
The measure, authored by Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, in
the House, would allow felony charges to be filed against a person
who assaults a woman and causes her to miscarry. Under the
legislation known as the “Scum of the Earth Bill,” a person
convicted of beating a woman the attacker knew was pregnant could be
charged with a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail. A person
convicted of a second or subsequent offense would be guilty of a
felony and face up to ten years in prison. If the attack resulted in
a miscarriage or injury to the unborn child, it would be a felony
with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
“More than 3,000 pregnant women in our state are attacked every
single year—usually by the father of the baby. While state law does
allow us to file double murder charges for killing a pregnant woman
and her unborn child, we ought to be doing more to get that abuser
behind bars before it gets to that point,” Leftwich said.
House Bill 1897 now moves to the full Senate Appropriations
Committee for consideration.
For more information contact:
Senator Leftwich's Office: (405) 521-5557