Ethen's Law to go into effect this week; protects unborn babies

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - North Carolina is now the 37th state to protect the life of a woman's unborn child.

Ethen's Law goes into effect this week so that an unborn baby can now be the victim of a homicide.

The law protects unborn babies so that if a pregnant mother is murdered or assaulted to the point where she loses her child, her attacker can face multiple charges.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said the law is a victory to North Carolina's criminal laws.

It was named after the unborn son of Jennifer Neilson, who lost her son when she was eight months pregnant after being attacked.

"Now, we're protecting unborn children from assault from a murderous conduct, the same way that we protect their mothers," said David.

In recent years, there have been several cases in North Carolina that have helped to garner support for the law.

Most recently in the region, Cesar Laurean was convicted of killing expectant mother and Marine Maria Lauterbach.

Laurean is currently appealing his conviction, but prosecutors currently can't charge Laurean for the death of Lauterbach's unborn child.

Ethen's Law also applies to crimes that don't result in the death of the mother; the unborn child remains a victim.

"This law protects the unborn children whether or not the defendant actually knew the woman was pregnant at the time," said David.

Ethen's Law is an addition to the criminal laws under murder and assault, but David says the law does nothing to change current abortion laws in North Carolina.

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