Iowa Senate Committee Moves Unborn Victims Bill Forward

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 7, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Iowa Senate Committee Moves Unborn Victims Bill Forward

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
March 7, 2004

Des Moines, IA ( — A bill inspired by the legacy of murder victim Laci Peterson has been approved by an Iowa Senate committee. The "Laci Peterson" bill, Senate Study Bill 3130, passed the Senate Human Resources Committee by a 7-5 vote.

The legislation overhauls Iowa’s fetal homicide law by setting up criminal penalties for the murder of an unborn child during a crime of violence against a pregnant woman.

Formerly known as the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," the measure would increase crimes and punishments for killing an unborn child. The first-degree murder of such a child would be considered a Class A felony.

Critics of the bill say that it will result in court challenges. Pro-life forces, however, counter that the pro-abortion lobby consistently challenges pro-life legislation — even when such legislation has widespread public support.

Currently, twenty-nine states have unborn victims laws, most recently Kentucky, and sixteen cover mothers and their unborn children throughout pregnancy. None of those laws has ever been successfully challenged in Court.

One public opinion poll showed that the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act has the support of 80 percent of the American people.

Pro-abortion forces claim that fetal homicide legislation represents a threat to "abortion rights." However, supporters of the Iowa bill note that it does not apply to abortion.

In fact, say pro-life leaders, pro-abortion resistance to fetal homicide measures shows just how radical the "pro-choice" lobby can be.

Sen. Nancy Boettger urged the committee to pass the bill so that it meets the "funnel" deadline for bills to receive consideration before the 2004 legislative session expires.

The rights of unborn crime victims have received national attention because of the media spotlight focused on the Laci Peterson case. Laci and her unborn son, Conner, were murdered in California. Laci’s husband and the boy’s father, Scott Peterson, is being tried for the double homicide.

Kim Gordon, Executive Director of the Iowa Right to Life Committee, has said that the Iowa law should "punish criminals for (harm to) the mother and her unborn child. We hope to correct the current law to reflect this intent."

President George W. Bush has expressed support for the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act sponsored by Pennsylvania Congresswoman Melissa Hart.

ACTION: Contact your state Senator with your views on this legislation. You can find a list at

Related web sites:
Iowa Right to Life Committee –
Iowa State Legislature –