The state Senate on Thursday voted in favor of strengthening penalties for assaulting pregnant women. House Bill 1897, known as the “Scum of the Earth Bill”, would allow felony charges to be filed against a person who assaults a woman and causes her to miscarry.
Noting that domestic violence is the number one cause of death among pregnant women, Senate author Debbe Leftwich said the state has a moral and legal responsibility to address the problem.
“More than 3,000 pregnant women in Oklahoma are attacked each year, usually by the father of the child,” said Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City. “The statistics clearly show that pregnant women are at a greater risk, and it’s our responsibility to put abusers behind bars. This is an especially heinous crime that demands very serious punishment.”
Under HB 1897, a person convicted of beating a woman they knew to be pregnant could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to a year in jail. If convicted of a second offense, an offender would be guilty of a felony and face up to ten years in jail. If the attack resulted in a miscarriage or injury to the unborn child, it would be a felony with a penalty of at least 20 years in prison.
“We need to enact policies that can help us step in and prevent tragedies from happening,” Leftwich said. “I believe this legislation provides a strong deterrent and provides law enforcement with the tools to prevent abuse. I’m pleased the Senate approved the bill and look forward to its implementation”
The measure now advances to the Governor.