Pro-Life Groups Urge Congress to Pass Unborn Victims Law

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 15, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Groups Urge Congress to Pass Unborn Victims Law

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
January 15, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Just as the Laci and Conner Peterson murder case is again in the news, pro-life groups are urging the U.S. Senate to take action on legislation that has been dubbed "Laci and Conner’s Law." 

The legislation would ensure that, when a federal act of violence is committed against a pregnant woman, the unborn child would be considered a crime victim as well.

The law targets violence against pregnant women and allows prosecutors to charge criminals who kill or injure unborn children as a result of an attack on a pregnant woman.

The measure is nicknamed for Laci and Conner Peterson, a California woman and her unborn son, who were murdered last year. Scott Peterson, Laci’s husband and Conner’s father, is standing trial for the crime.

Pro-life groups hope Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee senator, will push the Senate to take a vote on the bill. The Senate has never voted on the legislation, though the House has approved it twice.

Frist (R-TN) has stated that he will push for a Senate vote on the bill early this year. The House of Representatives may also take up the bill soon.

National Right to Life has issued a Congressional action alert on the bill, asking its affiliates and other pro-life groups to lobby Senators to take swift action on the measure. 

Polls show the legislation enjoys the support of the public, who agree that there are two victims in cases of violence against pregnant women.

A Newsweek poll released in June showed that 84 percent of the people surveyed say that the killing of an unborn child during a crime should be recognized as a homicide. Fifty-six percent thought the recognition should occur throughout an unborn child’s development, while 28 percent thought it should occur after the child is able to live outside the mother’s womb.

A Fox News poll taken in July showed that 79 percent of those Americans surveyed (including 69 percent of those who call themselves "pro-choice" say that when "a violent physical attack on a pregnant woman leads to the death of her unborn child…prosecutors should be able to charge the attacker with murder for killing the fetus."

According to National Right to Life, the bill does not apply to abortion or to legal or illegal acts that a mother commits that affect her unborn child.

"Nevertheless, pro-abortion groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood oppose the bill, because of their extreme ideological position that the law must always be blind to the existence of unborn human beings," National Right to Life said in its action alert.

Relatives of a number of high-profile crime victims have voiced their support of the legislation.

Conner Peterson’s grandmother, Sharon Rocha, for instance, wrote a letter to Congress imploring the legislative branch to approve the bill and reject a "single victim substitute" offered by pro-abortion Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

Rocha’s letter stated that the "adoption of such a single-victim amendment would be a painful blow to those, like me, who are left alive after a two-victim crime, because Congress would be saying that Conner and other innocent unborn victims like him are not really victims — indeed, that they never really existed at all. 

"But our grandson did live. He had a name, he was loved, and his life was violently taken from him before he ever saw the sun."

Proponents of the measure point out that Laci and Conner’s Law does not create any new federal crimes. Instead, it applies the "two-victim principle" to violent acts that are already considered federal crimes. These crimes could include a bombing, an attack on a domestic partner after interstate stalking, or an attack that occurs on federal property.

More than two dozen states have already enacted laws offering partial or complete protection for unborn victims of violence, according to National Right to Life.

"The pro-abortion advocacy groups have blocked enactment of unborn victims laws in many states," Douglas Johnson, National Right to Life’s Legislative Director, has said.

"They have also blocked the federal unborn victims bill, insisting on a competing ‘one-victim’ proposal that in effect would tell a grieving, surviving mother that she didn’t really lose a baby — that nobody really died in the crime."

Backers of the measure also point out that federal and state courts have consistently ruled that unborn victim laws do not contradict Roe v. Wade or other U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

The legislation, officially known as the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (S. 1019), is sponsored by 40 of the 100 U.S. Senators. The bill’s primary sponsor is pro-life Sen. Mike Dewine (R-OH).

ACTION: National Right to Life encourages pro-life advocates to call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and urge their Senators to pass Laci and Conner’s Law immediately.

Related web sites:
National Right to Life –