RICHMOND, VA, March 13, 2010 – On the last day of the regular session of the 2010 General Assembly, the legislation to protect new born children passed both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates unanimously. Senator Stephen Newman (R-Lynchburg) and Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Campbell) introduced Senate Bill 602 and House Bill 1033 to allow the Commonwealth to prosecute a mother who would take the life of a newly born child after birth. The bills passed after extensive debate in the House and Senate. Each house passed their own versions of the bill and a last minute Conference Committee reached an agreement on the final legislation.
Senator Newman said, “It was very difficult for Virginians to believe that our state would allow an individual to kill a new born child under any circumstance. While this is a very complicated section of the Code of Virginia and took a great deal of work to get the bill passed, I am pleased that we have reached this compromise. We should never send a message that our Commonwealth will tolerate the taking of a human life; with today’s vote we take a step in that direction. I am grateful for the assistance of many in Legislative Services, Delegate Byron and Senator Hurt for the many hours spent on this measure.”
Delegate Kathy Byron stated, “It is beyond my comprehension that any mother would take the life of their newborn child. An infant deserves the same protection of life that is given in the courts to every other Virginian. Clearly the citizens of Central Virginia were horrified to hear that this could happen in our Commonwealth. The legislature has an obligation to protect those who cannot protect themselves and that is what these bills were intended to do.”
The majority of the Senate conferees wanted a narrower bill to address the problem of getting a prosecution when the umbilical cord is still in place. The House along with Senators Newman and Hurt wanted to address the larger issues presented in Lane vs. Commonwealth. The compromise bills stated:
18.2-32.3 For the purposes of this article, the fact that the umbilical cord has not been cut and that the placenta remains attached shall not be considered in determining whether a human infant has achieved an independent and separate existence.
Byron and Newman were pleased with the results of the legislation but indicated that a comprehensive bill to update this section should be considered by a future legislature.
# # #