U.S. House Passes Dangerous Unborn Victims of Violence Act
House Passes Dangerous Unborn Victims of Violence Act
H.R. 1997 Undermines Roe v. Wade, Does Nothing to Protect Women
February 26, 2004
New York, N.Y. - Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Gloria Feldt today denounced passage of H.R. 1997, the so-called Unborn Victims of Violence Act, by the House. She released the following statement:
"The so-called Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) is not intended to protect pregnant women or punish individuals who harm them. It is part of a deceptive anti-choice strategy to make women's bodies vessels by creating legal personhood for the fetus.
"Nowhere does this legislation mention the harm to the woman resulting from an involuntary termination of her pregnancy. Sponsors of the UVVA have made their ideological goal abundantly clear: when given the opportunity to vote for a substitute bill that had virtually identical criminal penalties but recognized the pregnant woman, rather than the fetus, as the victim, they voted against this alternative.
"The UVVA was created with the sole aim of undermining the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that 'the word "person" as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.' This bill elevates the legal status of a fetus to make it equal to that of the adult woman who actually suffers the primary injury. It is part of ongoing attempts to bestow personhood on the fetus by granting it separate legal rights equal to and independent of those of the pregnant woman.
"Violence against women, including pregnant women, is a significant problem in America, one that should be addressed. This bill does nothing but shift the focus away from real solutions by undermining women's health and reproductive freedoms."
Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the nation's largest and most trusted voluntary family planning organization. We believe that everyone has the right to choose when or whether to have a child -- and that every child should be wanted and loved. Planned Parenthood affiliates operate nearly 900 health centers nationwide, providing medical services and sexuality education for millions of women, men, and teenagers each year.
Hayley Rumback (202) 973-4975
House Passes Unborn Victims Legislation (AP)
Thursday, Feb 26, 2004
By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - The House voted Thursday to treat attacks on a pregnant woman as separate crimes against both her and the fetus she is carrying. Critics say it would undermine abortion rights by giving fetuses new federal legal status
Passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act was actively backed by the White House and President Bush's conservative supporters. Following enactment of the law banning "partial birth" abortions last year, the bill is this year's prime measure dealing with the unborn.
It passed 254-163 after the House rejected a Democratic-led alternative that would have increased penalties for attacks on pregnant women in which the fetus is injured or killed without conferring new rights on fetuses.
Backers further highlighted the bill by naming it in honor of Laci and Conner Peterson, the pregnant woman who was murdered in December, 2002, and her unborn child.
"There are two victims in these kinds of attacks," said Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Pa., chief sponsor of the legislation. "That is so clear from the Laci and Conner Peterson case."
Laci's husband Scott Peterson faces double murder charges under California's state unborn victims law. California is one of 29 states that have enacted such laws, and supporters said Congress needs to bring the federal government in line with state laws.
At a news conference after the vote, supporters showed a video in which Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, urges Democratic presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards, "and every other senator who has refused to support it, to reconsider."
The measure would be applicable only when federal crimes -- such as terrorism, drug trafficking or offenses on federal land or on military bases -- are committed.
The White House expressed strong support for the legislation and opposed any "one-victim" alternatives such as that offered by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif. Her substitute, backed by most Democrats, fell 229-186.
Supporters denied that the bill was about abortion, pointing to language in the bill that specifically protects those carrying out legal abortions from prosecution. But the abortion issue dominated the debate.
"You deny personhood, which is a legal concept, to the unborn," Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., a strong opponent of abortion, said to critics of the bill. "Here's an opportunity to not restrict the liberty of a pregnant woman, but to enhance the sanctity of human life."
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins compared the bill to the ban on partial birth abortion and human cloning, saying it was "another example of pro-life legislation that is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans" regardless of the stand on abortion.
But Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said it would be the first time in federal law that a fetus would be recognized as having the same rights as the born. The bill "is not about shielding pregnant women," she said. "It is and has always been about undermining freedom of choice."
The House, said Kate Michelman, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, was "taking advantage of tragedy to promote the far-right agenda of trying to rob women of their right to choose."
The two sides also argued over language in the bill that defines "unborn child" as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."
Critics said that under this definition even a fertilized egg would have the same rights as the born, setting the stage for future challenges to abortion rights.
But those behind the bill noted that identical language was used in a 2000 bill that barred the execution of pregnant women. That bill passed the House 417-0 but didn't move in the Senate.
The House has also twice before, in 1999 and 2001, passed unborn victims bills, but in both those cases as well the Senate, where abortion rights lawmakers hold greater sway, did not take up the legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has pledged to bring up the bill soon, but it's uncertain whether he has the votes to pass it.
The bill also states that an offense does not require proof that the assailant had knowledge that the victim was pregnant. Hart noted that murder is a leading cause of death among pregnant women and in many cases the attack is made with the intention to kill the unborn child.
Related Article: an organization called CRACK pays "drug addicts" to use longterm birth-control or if they get sterilized. not clear how this organization gets someone to prove they are a "drug addict".
"Very little abortion should be tolerated, among our White race, while at the same time, abortion and birth control should be promoted as a powerful weapon, in the limitation of non-White birth. Overt support of both non-White population control and non-support of abortion for Whites, has the same desired effect."
- Tom Metzger, Director of White Aryan Resistance (WAR), from the website.