WASHINGTON (February 20, 2004) -- Cardinal William Keeler has urged Congressional approval of H.R. 1997, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2003 (also known as Laci and Conner's law) and rejection of any substitute that would nullify its intent.
Cardinal Keeler is Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). His letter to Congress was sent February 19.
H.R. 1997 protects unborn children whose mothers are physically assaulted, beaten, maimed, or murdered in violation of specified provisions of the federal criminal code. It will enable the federal government to recognize that when a pregnant woman is assaulted or killed within its jurisdiction, and her unborn child is harmed or killed as a result, the crime has two victims—the woman and her child.
Cardinal Keeler noted that H.R. 1997 explicitly excludes abortion. "Therefore it is all the more disappointing that some insist the bill should nonetheless be defeated to somehow preserve a 'right' to abortion," he said. "This bill simply ensures that both mother and child are protected from violent assault and murder."
"Opponents of H.R. 1997 may try to nullify it by offering substitute language, recognizing only the harm done to the woman but not to her child," the Cardinal said. "Such a 'single-victim' approach is unfair to mothers and families who grieve the loss of their unborn children. As Sharon Rocha, mother of Laci Peterson and grandmother of Conner, reminds us: 'There were two bodies that washed up in San Francisco Bay, and the law should recognize that reality.'"