by Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq.
March 26, 2004
There is no such thing as coincidence, but there are miracles in which God wishes to remain anonymous. This is the kind of miracle that happened when, after three years of stalling, the Senate finally agreed to take up the Unborn Victims of Violence Act -- on the Solemnity of the Annunciation. That day, when Catholics contemplate the moment when the Son of God became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the U.S. Senate debated whether a child who is in the womb of his mother when she is violently attacked might also be seen as a victim to the assault.
The bill addresses federal crimes of violence wherein the death of an unborn child is not currently recognized or charged. It is also known as "Laci and Conner's Law," in memory of Laci Peterson and her unborn child. Laci's mother, Sharon Rocha, fought for passage of this law, saying that "when a criminal attacks a woman who carries a child, he claims two victims. I lost my daughter, and, I also lost my grandson."
The bill exempts abortion, but the abortion lobby fought it anyway. Their grievance? The bill commits the unpardonable pro-choice sin: In the words of Senator Dianne Feinstein, it recognizes that a child in utero is "a human being."
Abortion activists recoil from any acknowledgment of a child's existence before birth, whatever the context, and however bizarre the argument, in order to protect the "logic" of Roe v. Wade. Senator Feinstein pushed for a substitute bill that would add penalties for interrupting a woman's "pregnancy" but erases any mention of the child as a victim, because of this fear about undermining Roe. But the child was the whole point. A woman who has lost an unborn child in a violent attack deserves the law's recognition that both she and her child were victims of the crime. Anything less is an affront to women and their children.
Abortion advocates hold up Roe as if it were the standard by which all other laws should be judged, forgetting that legal abortion is the uncomfortable exception, not the rule, when it comes to the way the law treats unborn children. Outside the context of abortion, unborn children are often recognized by the law. Most states allow legal recourse for prenatal injuries and recognize fetal homicide as a crime. Unborn children can inherit property, be represented by a guardian, sue for a wrongful death if their father is killed. They are considered human subjects protected from harmful research, and can qualify as recipients of state-funded health insurance.
Abortion is the glaring exception here. An exception that simply cannot be reconciled within this framework of rights for the unborn child. It defies logic that on Monday a child can inherit property or file claims in court and on Tuesday he disappears in the eyes of the law if an abortion choice is made. The "logic" of Roe v. Wade is like the Emperor's new clothes, and the abortion lobby stands in fear of the day when this logic is revealed to be just as insubstantial.
That day is bound to come. Senator Feinstein herself got so carried away with explaining how the bill threatened abortion that she said too much: "If it's murder here, is it not murder there?" That is the tricky thing with logic, Senator. It has a conclusion.
Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq. is the director of planning and information for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.