Congress Will Vote Again on Pro-Life Unborn Victims Bill, Senate May Too

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 17, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congress Will Vote Again on Pro-Life Unborn Victims Bill, Senate May Too

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 17, 2004

Washington, DC ( — The House of Representatives is expected to vote again on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act next week. The legislation, which the House has approved twice before, will allow prosecutors to charge criminals who kill or injure an unborn child as a result of an attack on a pregnant mother.

The House vote is expected next Thursday, February 28th, while the National Right to Life Committee says the Senate may vote soon after.

The Senate has never before voted on the legislation, though Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) has indicated that the Senate may turn to the issue very soon — perhaps not long after House action.

The bill is also named "Laci and Conners Law" after the high-profile case of Laci and Conner Peterson, who were killed in December 2002. Laci’s husband Scott is currently on trial under charges of killing his wife and unborn child.

Abortion advocacy groups oppose the legislation, saying they think establishing personhood for unborn children who are victims of violence crimes erodes the so-called right to abortion granted under the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

As they have before, pro-abortion lawmakers will propose substitute legislation that identifies a pregnant woman as a single victim in such crimes.

However, that legislation is an affront to pregnant women who have been victims of violence.

Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson’s mother, said the pro-abortion "proposal would enshrine in law the offensive concept that such crimes have only a single victim – the pregnant woman. This would be a step in the wrong direction."

"I hope that every legislator will clearly understand that 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," Rocha said.

Tracy Marciniak, who lost her unborn son Zachariah after she was attacked while pregnant, told lawmakers: "If you vote for that bill, you are really saying all over again to me, ‘We’re sorry, but nobody really died that night. There is no dead baby in the picture. You were the only victim.’"

Polls show a strong majority of Americans favor the unborn victims bill and oppose single-victim alternatives.

In a Fox News poll in June 2003, 79 percent of those responding said they thought an attacker should be charged with two crimes when a pregnant woman and her unborn baby are victims. Some 69 percent of those who said they were "pro-choice" agreed.

President Bush supports the unborn victims legislation while Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) opposes the law to protect pregnant women and their children.

The unborn victims law applies only to federal crimes, those living on federal land (such as Indian reservations or military bases) and federal workers. This means states need to pass their own version of the law to protect most of the residents of their state.

Some 28 states have unborn victims laws, 15 of which protect mothers and their unborn babies throughout pregnancy. The rest only allow further prosecution of assailants later in pregnancy.

ACTION: Contact your Representative at 202-224-3121 or find specific contact information at

Related web sites:
NRLC info on fetal homicide