John Kerry Criticized for Voting Against Bill Protecting Pregnant Women

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 26, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

John Kerry Criticized for Voting Against Bill Protecting Pregnant Women

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 26, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is drawing criticism for his vote against legislation that would protect pregnant women by allowing federal prosecutors to charge criminals with an additional crime when they assault women and kill or injure their unborn child.

The U.S. Senate passed the bill, also known as "Laci and Conner’s Law," on Thursday 61-38 and twelve Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, supported the legislation.

Pregnant women and the families of other women who have been victims of such violence strongly opposed the substitute measure and were upset that Kerry voted for it and against the bill.

"I’m appalled that Senator Kerry voted the wrong way," Carol Lyons of Kentucky, whose pregnant daughter, Ashley, and unborn grandson Landon were murdered in January, told the Washington Times. "He’s running for president of the United States, and he doesn’t believe there are two victims. … I know my grandbaby was real … I have two victims."

"Before politicians say that Conner was not really a victim of a crime, they need to think long and hard about whether they really want to say that," Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson’s mother, said.

In fact, voting against the violence against pregnant women bill was so important for Kerry that he rushed back to the nation’s capital from the campaign trail — making only his second appearance this year on the Senate floor.

"Apparently, John Kerry believes that if a criminal commits a federal crime that injures a pregnant woman and kills her unborn son or daughter, prosecutors should tell the grieving mother that she did not really lose a baby," stated National Right to Life Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.

Kerry was also criticized for voting against a substitute bill that the Senate also defeated. That legislation would have allowed additional prosecution for crimes against violence women but would not have acknowledged the baby as another victim.

On the other hand, President Bush is expected to sign the pro-woman measure into law soon.

In a statement issued after the vote yesterday, President Bush said, "Pregnant women who have been harmed by violence, and their families, know that there are two victims — the mother and the unborn child — and both victims should be protected by Federal law. I look forward to signing this important legislation into law."

In February, Kerry said he would oppose the violence against pregnant women bill because he claimed it would undermine abortion rights.

"This bill would clearly impact a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy, as that right is set forth in Roe vs. Wade," Kerry said. He indicated he opposed "granting a fetus the same legal status in all stages of development as a human being."

However, the bill exempts abortions and abortions remain legal in the states that have similar laws.

A May 2003 Newsweek poll found that 84 percent of Americans believe that when both mother and child die, the attacker should be charged "for two murders instead of one," including 56 percent who believe this should apply "in all cases where a pregnant woman is murdered."

The bill found support from both pro-life and pro-choice voters.

Some 29 states have laws that allow the prosecution of criminals who kill or injure unborn children as a result of crimes against a pregnant woman. Sixteen of those laws protect unborn children throughout pregnancy.