Unborn Victims Bill Only a Frist Step In Protecting All Pregnant Women
by Steven Ertelt
April 5, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Its impact can’t be discounted. Whether a pregnant woman is a victim of one of sixty-eight federal offenses or lives in a federal jurisdiction, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act will make sure criminals are held accountable if they kill or injure her unborn child.
Federal crimes involve such offenses as drug violations, child pornography, gun law violations, or kidnapping, and federal jurisdictions include Indian reservations, federal buildings, national parks and military bases.
For pregnant women living in states with no unborn victims laws, the bill is a great start. But its recent signature by President Bush moves the debate back to the states that have failed to protect pregnant women.
Denise Burke, an attorney with Americans United for Life, says pro-life advocates must now turn their attention to state legislatures to make sure every woman is protected.
"While the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is a significant victory for victims of violent crime and their families, it is important to remember that homicide is primarily a state crime, as opposed to a federal crime," said Denise M. Burke, AUL staff counsel. "So, it is critically important that all 50 states provide similar protection for the unborn."
Currently, twenty-nine states have some form of unborn victims law, but only sixteen protect pregnant women and their unborn children throughout pregnancy.
That means, pregnant women in some states are not protected and others are protected only during the latter parts of pregnancy.
The lack of protection doesn’t go over well with Bob Brown, Montana’s Secretary of State and a Republican gubernatorial candidate. He is calling for his state to pass a law similar to the federal bill.
"It’s a travesty of justice that pregnant women in our state aren’t properly protected," Brown explained. "As Governor, I will promote legislation that makes sure every Montana woman receives the legal protection she deserves during her pregnancy."
In February 2004, Kentucky became the latest state to enact unborn victims legislation. But, this year, states such as Maryland and West Virginia tried and failed to get a law in place.
Pro-abortion groups have yet to say whether they will support attorneys taking the Unborn Victims of Violence Act to court when the first person is charged under the law.
But legal challenges to the laws are not a concern.
"The constitutionality of the Unborn Victims of Violence and similar state laws is not in doubt," continued Burke. "State courts have repeatedly and emphatically ruled that state fetal homicide protections are constitutional and do not violate Roe v. Wade."
"More than a dozen lawsuits have challenged fetal homicide laws over the past few years, and every time the laws have been upheld by state courts, federal courts, and even the U.S. Supreme Court," adds Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.
Last week, in a touching ceremony in the East Room of the White House, President Bush signed the bill into law.
"As of today, the law of our nation will acknowledge the plain fact that crimes of violence against a pregnant woman often have two victims," President Bush said. "And therefore, in those cases, there are two offenses to be punished.
"Under this law, those who direct violence toward a pregnant woman will answer for the full extent of the harm they have done, and for all the crimes they have committed," the president added.