Bill that passed state senate adds felony charge to knowingly attacking pregnant women

Posted at 3:47 PM, Mar 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-18 07:18:56-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A bill that makes a crime of violence against a woman the assailant knows is pregnant an additional felony charge passed the Maryland State Senate in a near unanimous vote Friday.

Senate Bill 561, known as “Laura & Reid’s Law,” passed the chamber with a 46-1 vote. The bill was sponsored by District 5 Republican State Senator Justin Ready. The legislation now moves on to the House of Delegates.

The bill is named after Laura Wallen and her unborn child Reid. Wallen was killed in a salacious murder that gripped headlines. Tessier was eventually charged in the murder after originally playing the part of the crying fiancé. He was found dead in his jail cell from an apparent suicide before his scheduled trial.

READ MORE: Murdered mother Laura Wallen's family speaks out after accused killer found dead hours before trial

At the time of the murder, Wallen was 14-weeks pregnant, at which point the baby was not considered viable outside the womb, and so prosecutors could not charge Tessier with an additional murder or any other crime related to Reid’s death.

The leading cause of pregnancy-associated death is homicide, a statement from Ready’s office said, with black women younger than 25 years old being the most affected, and Maryland experiencing 10 times the national average in such deaths.

“As Mark Wallen, Laura’s father, recently highlighted, Laura was murdered by an intimate partner because she was pregnant,” Ready said in a statement. “We should be doing all we can to make an assailant take pause before committing this heinous act.”