BOULDER, Colo. -- It could be a week before we know whether a Longmont woman who allegedly stabbed a pregnant woman and removed her unborn child will face a charge of first degree murder. The Boulder District Attorney says a murder charge is not a given because of Colorado laws and the facts surrounding the case.
During a news conference Thursday District Attorney Stan Garnett said any murder charge involving an unborn child is very difficult.
"Under Colorado law, essentially, there's no way murder charges can be brought if it's not established that the fetus lived as a child outside the body of the mother for some period of time,” Garnett said.
There is a chance Dynel Lane will face a murder charge. According to the arrest affidavit, her boyfriend told police that he heard the baby gasp for air after already being removed from her mother, but Garnett said they’ll have to wait for an autopsy in order to better understand whether the child lived on her own.
Heather Surovik wishes Colorado’s law went further. She knows what it’s like to lose an unborn child in an unimaginable way.
“I got hit by a drunk driver and Brady died as a result of the accident,” Surovik said.
When Heather lost her son Brady weeks before his due date in 2012, she says she suffered twice.
“Unless he took a breath he wasn’t considered a person, so the drunk the driver who hit us was not charged with Brady’s death because of that,” Heather said.
Prosecutors in the latest case in Longmont could seek a charge of unlawful termination of a pregnancy, a class three felony, thanks to a 2013 bill passed by the legislature which closed some loopholes involving unborn children.
Surovik wants to see the state do more.
“A baby, whether it’s in the womb or outside of the womb, needs just as much protection as you and I do and that law doesn’t give it to it,” Surovik said.
Surovik fought for a personhood bill last year in hopes of doing just that, but voters and Democrats in the legislature have voted the bills down several times because of concerns about abortion rights.
“We have to make sure whatever we do doesn’t go down the road to banning abortion, which is what the personhood folks want to do,” said Representative Mike Foote.
Foote sponsored the 2013 Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act that closed some of the loopholes and says he believes the added felonies do a good job of protecting unborn children while balancing a woman’s right to choose to choose.
For now, Heather says her main priority is extending support to another woman in mourning.
“I know exactly what she’s going through. You know, people can tell you, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, but they don’t know. If they’ve never lost a baby like her and I have they don’t know what you’re feeling,” Surovik said. “I’m here and we can try to get through it together.”