Congressional Cmte Will Vote on Pro-Life Unborn Victims Bill Wednesday
by Steven Ertelt
January 19, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Though the House of Representatives has passed the bill before, the Senate, under pro-abortion Democratic leadership, blocked any action on pro-life legislation that would hold criminals accountable when they kill or injure an unborn child in the course of an attack on a pregnant woman.
Now that the Senate agenda is formulated by pro-life senators, pro-life groups are hoping that the bill will finally come up for a vote on the Senate floor this year — though a pro-abortion filibuster remains a possibility.
The House Judiciary Committee will start the process by considering the legislation on Wednesday.
As it has before, the committee will likely pass the bill on a party-line vote, with pro-life Republicans favoring it and Democrats, led by Rep. Jarrold Nadler, a New York congressman, siding with abortion advocates.
The bill, HR 1997, also known as Laci and Conner’s Law, after Laci and Conner Peterson, is sponsored by pro-life Rep. Melissa Hart, of Pennsylvania.
The bill would recognize as a legal victim any "child in utero" who is injured or killed during the commission of a federal crime of violence. The bill covers unborn children throughout pregnancy.
Abortion advocates disagree with the bill’s premise, saying that there is only one victim when a pregnant woman is attacked and her unborn baby is killed or injured.
Pro-life leaders expected pro-abortion Rep. Zoe Lofgren, of California, to offer a pro-abortion version of the bill that recognizes only one victim. Instead of charging criminals with an additional crime, it simply enhances the penalties against a criminal who attacks a pregnant woman and hurts her baby.
"When a criminal attacks a woman and kills her unborn child, he has claimed two victims, and this bill would recognize that for federal crimes," commented NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "The bill explicitly exempts abortion — yet, pro-abortion advocacy groups have so far obstructed the bill in the Senate."
Sharon Rocha — whose daughter Laci and unborn grandson Conner were brutally murdered in California just over a year ago — has urged lawmakers to reject the "single-victim" proposal and to enact the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
In a letter to congressional sponsors of the bill, Rocha said that enactment of the Lofgren "single-victim" proposal 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."
Pro-abortion groups also oppose the unborn victims bill saying that its chips away at the legal foundation of Roe v. Wade by granting unborn children additional rights under law, even though abortion is not targeted under the bill.
The Senate bill is S. 1019, sponsored by Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). President Bush supports the legislation.
ACTION: If your member of Congress sits on the House Judiciary, call and express your views on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. A list of committee members can be found at https://www.house.gov/judiciary/members.htm