Sparked by the lobbying efforts of a grieving mother whose pregnant 18-year-old daughter was shot dead last year, Indiana has adopted a law that will charge suspects who attack pregnant women with murder if that attack results in the death of an unborn baby.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb recently signed SB 203 into law. It allows prosecutors to charge felony suspects with murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter or feticide if a baby is killed in any stage of development, according to WTKR. Lawfully performed abortions will not be affected by the law which goes into effect on July 1.
Brittany McNew, the 11-weeks pregnant 18-year-old daughter of Jennifer Lee, was shot dead at a "drug house" in Indianapolis last May.
When Lee realized her daughter's attacker wouldn't be charged with murder for the death of her unborn grandchild she began pushing to change the law by sending letters to the 150 members of the Indiana state legislature.
"She would be proud because I didn't just let her baby die. And I know this bill isn't going to go for my grandbaby, but it will go for many babies to come," Lee told WTKR. "The first person that's convicted of this, I will be standing in the court and I'll see justice for my baby."
Lee's daughter isn't the only pregnant woman who has been murdered. In 2015, Amanda Blackburn, the pregnant 28-year-old wife of Resonate Church Pastor Davey Blackburn, was fatally shot in the head during a home invasion. She was 12 weeks pregnant.
Three men were charged in Amanda's death. Jalen E. Watson pleaded guilty in October to one count of robbery and two counts of burglary, the Indy Star reported. Two counts of murder were dismissed against him. Larry Jo Taylor Jr., who is accused of pulling the trigger, and Diano Cortez Gordon are awaiting trial.
Davey Blackburn says he has chosen the path of forgiveness for the men alleged to have killed his wife.
"I have a full frontal assault against bitterness and hatred with love and kindness and forgiveness," Blackburn told a crowd at the Indiana Roof Ballrooom recently. "And that, friends, is how we become dangerous against darkness."
"Two and a half years ago, I walked into my house on Sunnyfield Court to my worst nightmare. I was coming home from the gym, early, and walked in to find my wife face down on the floor in a pool of blood. And that was the start of a valley that I never thought that I'd have to go through. It's one of those things that you'd always say, that stuff happens to other people, that doesn't happen to us, especially, especially those of us who are serving God," he said.
The young pastor who remarried last December two years after Amanda's death said while many people might have been surprised by his willingness to forgive his wife's alleged killers, he realized it was the best path for him and his family.
"People have asked me how in the world can you forgive. ... I started realizing that if I continue to let bitterness and hatred fuel everything that I do, then it's going to perpetuate, blow up everybody that I care about around me. My son's going to perpetuate bitterness and hatred. My staff's going to perpetuate bitterness and hatred. My friends, everything, and it's going to start this cycle. And so the way that I stop that cycle, the ways that I stop generational cycles, is that I have a full frontal assault against bitterness and hatred with love and kindness and forgiveness, and that, friends, is how we become dangerous against darkness," he said.