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Abortion foes knock Repp bill focus

A debate over recognizing fetuses as human beings dominated — a Thursday hearing on the state Senate bill named for murder victim Kerry — Repp.

The Senate Rules Committee brought a discussion on Senate — Bill 712 to Ashland. If passed, the bill would enhance penalties for violence — against pregnant women and make the murderer of a pregnant woman subject — to the death penalty. Repp's parents, Ron and JoeAnn Johnson, of Medford, — spoke in support of the bill, authored by Senate Majority Leader Kate — Brown, a Portland Democrat.

"If it saves one woman and one child, that's worth it," — said Ron Johnson.

Kerry Michele Repp, 29, was murdered in her Central Point — home on May 4, 2002. Repp was three months pregnant with another man's — child when she was shot to death with her husband's handgun. Repp's husband, — Gary Marvin Repp Jr., was acquitted of murder in March last year.

But opponents of the bill pointed to the Johnsons' grief — at the loss of their seventh grandchild in arguing for "human being" status — for fetuses. Pending House and Senate bills - supported by Republican — legislators - would create separate crimes committed against unborn children.

"At the moment of conception, this child is separate," — said Sue Ann Arnold, of Eagle Point.

Arnold and nine others, including Bryan Platt, chairman — of the Jackson County Republican Central Committee, voiced their support — for Senate Bill 440 or House Bill 220. Platt called Brown's bill "merely — an attempt to placate Oregonians."

Present at Friday's hearing, Sen. Jason Atkinson, R-Central — Point, sponsored Senate Bill 440, saying it has more "teeth" than Brown's — bill. Republican Reps. Dennis Richardson, Central Point, and Sal Esquivel, — Medford, sponsored the almost identical House version.

Medford defense attorney Lisa Greif also voiced opposition — on behalf of the Oregon Defense Lawyers Association because Senate Bill — 712 expands the state's capital punishment laws.