|Senate supports bill making first conviction of domestic violence against pregnant women a felony |
The full Senate has approved a bill to make domestic violence against a pregnant woman a felony upon the first conviction. Senate Bill 1046, by Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, was approved unanimously on Thursday after previously winning support in two separate Senate committees.
Weaver met with domestic violence victims advocates during the interim, and said he was shocked to find out that under current law, a first conviction for attacking an expecting mother was only a misdemeanor. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), homicide is the leading cause of death among pregnant women in this country.
“As a society, we’ve made tremendous progress in how we view domestic violence, and we’ve updated and improved our laws accordingly, but this is one in our state that’s been overlooked,” Weaver said. “We’re talking about cases where the attacker knew the woman was pregnant at the time, and we know these crimes tend to escalate. I believe strengthening the penalties can help us save lives of mothers and their unborn children.”
Under SB 1046, anyone convicted of domestic abuse against someone they knew was pregnant at the time would be guilty of a felony on the very first offense. Currently, the punishment is up to a year in the county jail, but if Weaver’s bill becomes law, a first offense would carry a punishment of up to five years in prison.
“Again, murder is the number one cause of death for expecting mothers, more than illnesses like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes,” Weaver said. “This is pro-life legislation, and I thank my fellow members for helping get this bill one step closer to becoming law.”
SB 1046 now moves to the House of Representatives. The House principal author is Rep. Robert Manger, R-Oklahoma City.