January 20, 2004
Dear Judiciary Committee Member:
In solidarity with the family of murder victims Laci and Conner Peterson, I write to urge you to approve H.R. 1997, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2003 (also known as Laci and Conner's Law).
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. Surprisingly, when a pregnant woman is herself the victim of a federal crime, any resulting injury to her unborn child—harm to which the woman obviously has not consented—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).
The bill explicitly excludes abortion. So it is all the more disappointing that some insist the bill should nonetheless be defeated to somehow preserve a "right" to abortion. This bill offers an opportunity to protect both mother and child from violent assault and murder.
H.R. 1997 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. This is a common-sense and compassionate approach, consistent with government's responsibility to protect human life, born as well as unborn.
Please consider this issue on its merits and vote for H.R. 1997.
Gail Quinn Executive Director