Tallahassee, Florida - The Florida House passes a bill that creates a separate criminal offense for anyone who hurts an unborn child.
The legislation applies to any stage of pregnancy. If a pregnant woman is hurt by a violent act, the bill would allow offenders to face extra charges if the unborn child is hurt or killed.
That prompted criticism from opponents on the House floor Thursday. They said a person might not even know a woman was pregnant but could face a murder charge from the death of an unborn child.
Supporters of the bill argued people should be held responsible for their actions, even if they didn't know a woman was pregnant.
Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake city, said a pregnant woman considers her unborn child to be a child.
"Do not tell me and do not tell any of the other women in this room or in this state that because they have not given birth to their child yet, it is somehow inconsequential, unimportant and not their child."
Rep. Elaine Schwartz, D-Hollywood, argued the bill was more about trying to create constitutional rights for unborn children.
"It is elevating the legal status of a fertilized egg to that of an adult human being."
The bill passed 74 - 43 and now heads to the Senate.
The House also passed a bill Thursday that bans anyone from seeking an abortion based on the sex or race of a child.