Pro-Lifers Push Congress to Pass Unborn Victims of Violence Act

July 7, 2008 - 7:03 PM

Charlotte, N.C. ( - The legislative director of the National Right To Life Committee said Saturday delegates should pressure their lawmakers to pass the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act."

The House approved the legislation in April, but it is still pending in the Senate, where a similar bill died last year.

Failure to recognize unborn babies as victims under federal law has led to a number of cases where justice could not be served, according to Douglas Johnson, the NRLC's legislative director.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act says that when a criminal commits a federal crime against a pregnant woman and injures or kills her unborn child, the criminal has claimed two victims. Proponents say it does not interfere with the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973.

"The Unborn Victims of Violence Act creates no new federal crimes. Rather, the bill would come into play only when federal authorities have cause to arrest someone for an offense against a woman in an already defined federal crime of violence. It would also allow them to bring a second charge if there has been a second victim, an unborn child," Johnson told delegate at the NRLC's annual convention in Charlotte.

Johnson criticized the Planned Parenthood Foundation for saying that "nowhere in the bill is harm against women mentioned." He called that statement "blatantly misleading" saying, "The bill really mentions harm against women 68 times, as it cites the 68 federal crimes of violence against women."

Planned Parenthood, according to a position paper on its website, considers the legislation a "federal feticide bill" that "elevates the status of the fetus at all stages of development to that of the pregnant woman."

Two dozen states have laws regarding unborn victims of violence, according to Johnson.

"This bill is not a substitute for state laws. It does not supersede the state laws. States that don't have unborn-victim laws still need to pass them," Johnson said.

However, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, called the bill a "thinly veiled attempt to legislatively overturn Roe v. Wade."

"The bill's definition of 'in utero' makes a two-celled fertilized egg (zygote) a person. Not only is this constitutionally questionable, it causes the legislation to get mired in the abortion debate," Lofgren said.

Lofgren introduced an amendment to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act called the "Motherhood Protection Act". It was defeated by the full House.