U.S. Senate Will Vote on Unborn Victims Bill With No Filibuster
by Steven Ertelt
March 15, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — In a huge victory for pro-life advocates, members of the U.S. Senate have agreed to have a debate and vote on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act as early as the week of March 22. The Senate has never before voted on this pro-life legislation, that would allow prosecutors to hold criminals accountable when they kill or injure an unborn child as a result of an attack on a pregnant woman.
Though the House has twice passed the pro-life bill, it never came up while Democrats controlled the Senate.
One of the biggest hurdles the bill has faced has been the threat of a filibuster by pro-abortion senators, which would force pro-life lawmakers to find 60 votes to pass the legislation.
Without the filibuster concern, a simply majority can pass the bill, turn back a pro-abortion substitute and send the legislation to President Bush, who has been pressuring Congress for years to send the pro-life bill to him.
Pro-life groups said much of the success of the agreement falls in the lap of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN).
"We commend Senate Majority Leader Frist for his months of tireless work in winning this agreement," said National Right to Life Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. "This agreement means that if a simple majority of senators votes to reject two killer amendments, the bill can become law in short order, because the agreement prohibits any filibuster of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act."
Under the agreement, senators will debate and vote on the unborn victims bill and two amendments that pro-life groups say are an attempt to gut the bill.
One amendment, offered by pro-abortion Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) would not define an unborn child as a person or victim under law. It would only slightly enhance the penalties for attacking a pregnant woman.
Women who are victims of such violence condemn the Feinstein proposals saying it tells them their unborn child did not die and that they suffered no loss.
"Senator Feinstein has a bill that says that crimes like the murder of Laci and Conner have only one victim," says Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson’s mother.
"But Laci knew that Conner was her son, and I know it too. Two people, Laci and Conner, would be here with us today if they had not been murdered. There were two victims in this crime, not one," Rocha says.
The second "killer" amendment, Johnson says, is a 157-page bill, sponsored by pro-abortion Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The Murray amendment is an attempt to promote domestic violence programs by making employers spend millions on various programs that are unaffordable.
"The attempt to attach this massive bill is clearly an attempt to mire the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in issues that are entirely distinct," Johnson explains.
If approved, the Murray amendment could force senators to vote against the bill, which could ultimately defeat it.
The House of Representatives most recently passed the bill on February 26, by a 254-163 vote.
While President Bush strongly supports the pro-life legislation and will sign it into law, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry opposes it and has backed the Feinstein amendment saying unborn children are not victims.
ACTIONS: Please contact your members of the U.S. Senate and urge strong support for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and opposition to any amendments. You can reach any senator at 202-224-3121 or find specific contact information for your senators by going to https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm