Editor's Note: A bill that was supported by Pro-Life groups, including the Knights of Columbus, has passed the Alabama legislature. The "Brody Bill" criminalizes the murder of an unborn child "at any stage of development". The following is an article that was published in the April 5, 2006 edition of The Birmingham News.
MONTGOMERY - Anyone who injured or killed an "unborn child" at any stage of development could be charged with assault or homicide under a bill passed Tuesday by the Legislature.
Gov. Bob Riley said he looked forward to signing the bill into law. That could happen later this week.
The state Senate voted 33-0 for the bill after making changes to a version passed in January by the House of Representatives. The House then voted 101-0 to go along with the Senate's changes, giving the bill final legislative approval.
The bill, House Bill 19, is named in memory of Brody Parker, the unborn child of Brandy Parker of Albertville, who was 8½ months pregnant when she was shot and killed in July.
Brandy Parker's father, Roger Parker of Guntersville, said he was thrilled the bill passed.
"We are absolutely elated," he said. "The emotion is indescribable. The first thing I thought of was my daughter and my grandson. Their legacy will live on."
The Brody bill will take effect July 1 and then could be used to prosecute people for assault or homicide if they injured or killed an unborn child, something that supporters of the bill said couldn't have been done against Brody Parker's killer.
Parker said he believed the story of the deaths of Brandy and Brody Parker put a face to a gap in state law and helped pass the bill.
The bill would expand the definition of person, when referring to the victim of assault, murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, so that it included "an unborn child" regardless of viability, which means the ability to live outside the womb.
The bill says it would not apply to anyone seeking or performing a legal abortion.
We've done a good thing for the state of Alabama and for unborn children," said Sen. Bradley Byrne, R-Montrose.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Spencer Collier, R-Irvington, said he thinks the bill probably is the most important passed by lawmakers since 2003.
Similar law in 32 states:
"This is a victims' advocate bill," Collier said. "It's a bill that's going to protect pregnant mothers, and it's a bill that the overwhelming majority of Alabama wants, and it's long past due."
He said 32 states have similar laws.
Dan Ireland, executive director of the church-supported Alabama Citizen's Action Program, praised the bill. "It's the protection of life, particularly the unborn," he said.
Collier said that, starting July 1, it would be up to a prosecutor to prove a woman was pregnant and that the accused person injured or killed the child she was carrying.
He said a district attorney might try to use the Brody bill to prosecute someone for criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter if the person caused a traffic accident that killed an unborn child.
Not only would the law not apply in the case of legal abortions, it also would not apply to the mother. Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, said he wanted that provision added to ensure that a woman who miscarried could not be prosecuted. It also would not apply to health care providers if an unborn child were injured or killed by medical care.
Collier's bill as first written would have applied to "an unborn child at every stage of gestation (in the uterus) from conception to birth, regardless of viability."
At Smitherman's request, that phrase was rewritten to apply to "an unborn child (in the uterus) at any stage of development regardless of viability."
Collier said he believed the new language had the same meaning as the original language. "I do think it accomplishes the same thing," he said.
But Smitherman said it would be up to a judge to decide whether the bill applied from conception. "I don't know what a judge would say," Smitherman said.