Skip to comments.Attacks on pregnant women have two victims (by Sen. Rick Santorum-R)
Posted on 06/09/2003 12:01:27 AM PDT by LdSentinal
Spurred by the recovery of Laci and Conner Peterson's bodies from the San Francisco Bay, the rarely publicized legislative debate over injury to unborn children has become a nationwide discussion.
In this dialogue, there is one all-important concept at the center of any valid argument: Violent acts inflicted on a woman that injure or kill the unborn child she carries have two victims - the mother and her child. The criminal case surrounding the deaths of Laci and her unborn son, Conner, has garnered national attention for its appeal as a human interest story and as a salient addition to an ongoing question of public policy. Legislation to protect unborn children from violent acts has new prominence in the American conscience, but has been the subject of legal debate for several years in both state and federal legislatures.
According to the California Penal Code, "the killing of an unborn child after the embryonic stage is murder." And because California's laws recognize that the homicide of an expectant mother has two victims, Scott Peterson's trial will address his role in the distinct deaths of his wife and son. Pennsylvania joins California and 25 other states in establishing the criminal responsibility of an assailant who harms a child in utero.
But in nearly half of the United States, and in federal law, there are no statutes to penalize aggressors in these crimes. This leaves substantial gaps in legal protection for prenatal children, and, by telling parents that their children did not exist in the eyes of the law, adds further tragedy to a family's lost hopes and dreams.
As lawmakers, we have a duty to make justice available where gaps and loopholes in the law exist for innocent victims who have suffered maliciously intended harm. This is precisely the purpose of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA), a bill that would complement existing state laws concerning the death of unborn children, and provide protection for those children in situations (federal criminal cases) to which state laws do not apply.
In Pennsylvania, a federal law was used to convict a man for causing an explosion and the intentional death of his ex-girlfriend, Deanna. Although Deanna had been pregnant at the time, her murderer was not charged with the unborn baby's death because federal law has no provision under which to prosecute the killing of a prenatal child. The man went unpunished for one of the lives he destroyed.
This bill recognizes the societal and emotional importance of life, whatever the stage of development. This is neither a measure intended to undermine established law (Roe v. Wade), nor to criminalize physicians or women for the choices they make. The language of UVVA specifically excludes from prosecution abortion, medical procedures, and self-inflicted injuries; it simply recognizes what the great majority of American people already understand: Two lives are affected when a pregnant woman is attacked.
This bill closes loopholes that ignore this basic fact. It recognizes that intentional harm to an unborn child should be punished.
UVVA has twice passed the House with strong bipartisan support, both in 1999 and 2001. Furthermore, recent polls have shown that as much as 84 percent of Americans find two victims to be harmed in attacks involving a pregnant woman.
Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, personally shared with me her very powerful belief that a federal law is needed to prevent family members from being told that "in the eyes of the law, you lost a daughter, but not a grandson." As her grief makes clear, two innocent lives were taken in Laci's and Conner's murders, and to ignore this double loss is to deny callously the life and future this family had so long awaited.
Such callousness has no place in a compassionate, life-affirming America. Nor is it consistent with the voice of the American people. Federal law should accurately reflect our need to protect the most vulnerable members of society from hostile attack. By acknowledging the two victims injured in violent crimes intended to harm mothers and their unborn children, we can reach this goal.
Murder Most Foul: Homicide: Leading Cause of Pregnancy-Associated Death: "Why are pregnant women dying?" asks Rebecca Whiteman of the Family Violence Protection Fund in San Francisco. "Their partners are killing them." ...Homicide is the fourth leading cause of death among all American women of childbearing age; and one-third of all female murder victims each year are killed by an intimate partner.
How true. I'll never forget the first time I saw a "Save the Baby Humans" bumper sticker. I would have clapped, if my hands hadn't been on the wheel! It was such a perfect parody of the libnuts' strange and inexplicable over-hype about "the baby seals".
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