WASHINGTON (April 25, 2001) -- Cathleen Cleaver, director of planning and information for the Secretariat for
Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, urged congressional support for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the legislation (H.R. 503) on Thursday, April 26. The bill would amend federal criminal laws so that they protect unborn children as well as their mothers against violent acts by third parties.
"Federal criminal laws against violence should not recognize some victims and ignore others," Ms. Cleaver said. "When a pregnant mother is assaulted and she and her baby are both harmed, there are two victims to the crime. To ignore one is a senseless injustice."
At least two dozen states have laws that recognize unborn children as crime victims.
Because of Roe vs. Wade, abortion is excluded from the scope of the bill. But some "pro-choice" advocates oppose the bill because they object to any reference to the unborn child as a person distinct from his or her mother. An amendment is expected from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) that would remove the unborn child as a potential victim of a violent crime and thereby negate the purpose of the bill.
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act was introduced by Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and has 95 cosponsors.