April 20, 2001
Dear Member of Congress:
I write to urge you to support H.R. 503, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2001, and to oppose the Lofgren substitute.
H.R. 503 protects unborn children whose mothers are physically assaulted, beaten, maimed, or murdered in violation of specified provisions of the federal criminal code. Surprisingly, when a pregnant woman is the victim of a federal crime, any resulting injury to her unborn child goes unpunished. The vast majority of states, in contrast to the federal government, recognize and redress prenatal injury or death resulting from violence inflicted upon a pregnant woman. See Paul B. Linton, "Planned Parenthood v. Casey: The Flight From Reason in the Supreme Court," 13 St. Louis U. Law Rev. 15-137 (1993), especially 120-137 (listing 38 states that recognize the humanity and legal status of unborn children outside the abortion context).
It is disappointing that some opponents of the bill claim it should nonetheless be defeated to preserve a "right" to abortion because it acknowledges the existence of prenatal human life. In fact, this bill specifically does not apply in the abortion context. Moreover, even many abortion proponents have conceded that abortion takes a human life. This bill simply offers an opportunity to protect both the pregnant woman and her unborn child from violent assault and murder. To oppose such much-needed legislation, because it recognizes a truth about unborn life that almost everyone already knows anyway, would be a terrible injustice.
Also disheartening is the Lofgren substitute offered by opponents. The substitute would ignore the second victim, the unborn child, altogether and merely ask the United States Sentencing Commission to consider enhancing the sentence for a crime against his or her mother. Refusing to acknowledge the value or humanity of the unborn child, the substitute's proponents beg an important question: If the woman's life is the sole life at stake, why enhance the sentence? Her life is already protected by federal statutes. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act recognizes that there are two victims—the woman and her child—when a pregnant woman is assaulted or killed, and her unborn child is harmed or killed as a result. This is a common-sense and compassionate approach, consistent with government's responsibility to protect vulnerable human life.
Please consider this issue on its merits and vote for H.R. 503 when it comes to the House floor.
For more information see: http://www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/publicat/lifeissues/03302001.shtml