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« on: December 23, 2004, 02:51:39 AM »

Top Stories of 2004: 'Unborn Victims' Bill Now Law; Another Pro-Life Victory

by Jody Brown and Rusty Pugh
December 21, 2004

(AgapePress) - On Thursday, President Bush signed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, making it a separate crime to harm or kill an unborn child during an assault on the mother. While most pro-lifers are hailing the new law and the recognition it brings to children still in the womb, at least one major pro-life advocacy group is saddened that it won't prevent even one abortion.

"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," the president said before putting his signature to the bill. "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."

President George W. Bush was surrounded by members of Congress who sponsored the UVVA and by members of families who have suffered tragic losses as the result of violence against mothers-to-be. Among them were the parents of Laci Peterson who, along with her unborn son Conner, was killed in December 2002. Of that heinous act, Bush said "the law cannot look away and pretend there was just one [death]."

"Any time an expectant mother is a victim of violence, two lives are in the balance, each deserving protection and each deserving justice. If the crime is murder and the unborn child's life ends, justice demands a full accounting under the law," the president said.

"The moral concern of humanity extends to those unborn children who are harmed or killed in crimes against their mothers," he continued. "And now, the protection of federal law extends to those children, as well. With this action ... we reaffirm that the United States of American is building a culture of life."

Read the President's Entire Statement

    [Photo compliments of Family Research Council]
Tony Perkins
Another Step
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council says the signing of the of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act -- also known as "Laci and Conner's Law" -- marks a "tremendous victory" for the pro-life movement. "We are now one giant step closer to rebuilding a culture of life, where every child -- born and unborn -- is given the protections they so clearly deserve," Perkins says.

The FRC leader points out that 29 states already have similar legislation on the books and that, according to polls, more than 80 percent of Americans favored the bill's passage. "This law merely recognizes what common sense tells us," Perkins says. "There are two victims when a pregnant woman is harmed."

Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission also applauds the "just and compassionate" bill now becoming law. "It is another reminder we are slowly but surely winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the American public when it comes to the personhood of unborn human beings," he says.

"This is a significant step forward in reasserting, for the unborn, the legal rights of all human beings. We should resolve to continue to pray and work until every unborn child has the same protections under the law that we as adults possess."

The bill specifically states that legal abortions are not a crime -- but that has not dissuaded abortion advocates, who fear that the measure's definition of life could provide legal precedence for those opposed to abortion. The bill applies to a "child in utero," defined as "a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb."

Sam Casey of the Christian Legal Society says despite the plain language excluding abortion, many pro-abortion groups and their supporters in Congress still opposed the bill. Casey says those critics seem to be more concerned about the "right to choose" who lives or dies than they are about protecting women.

"If there ever was a bill to protect a woman's right to choose, it is this bill," he says. "[This bill] seeks to deter violence against or at least provide justice to the pregnant woman, who is choosing life for her unborn child only to see her choice deprived by a crime of violence against her and/or her child."

"A law that allows true justice to be done on behalf of such innocent victims, and that hopefully deters such crimes in the future, is a worthwhile law in its own right."

But That Exception ...
But not all pro-lifers are lining up behind Laci and Connor's Law. One pro-life advocate says the law is nice for recognizing the humanity of unborn children, and a good political bill for an election year -- but it's not going to stop any abortions. Joe Giganti of American Life League says his group could not support the measure because it contains a specific exemption for abortion.

"It is an encouraging moment when 61 members of the United States Senate will publicly state that a preborn baby is a human being, endowed by our Creator with the same inalienable rights that are guaranteed by our constitution to every American," Giganti says, "but the downside is they're only willing to admit that for some of babies."

Giganti says in order for the law to be real and viable, it cannot ignore the most violent and common form of murder against children: abortion. The result, he says, will be creation of what he calls "schizophrenic belief" within the law -- that some children have rights, and others do not.


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