The U.S. bishops applaud President George Bush for signing the Unborn Victims of Violence Act into law yesterday. Also known as "Laci and Conner's Law", it recognizes an unborn child as a second victim in a violent federal crime against a pregnant woman.
In doing so, the law also expands the legal rights of the unborn. The law was passed in the House (245-163) and Senate (61-38) earlier this year with bipartisan majority votes.
"The suffering of two victims can never equal only one offense," Bush said at the signing.
"As of today, the law of our nation will acknowledge the plain fact that crimes of violence against a pregnant woman often have two victims. Therefore, in those cases, there are two offenses to be punished," he said.
"We applaud the President for bringing justice to women and their children who are victims of violent crime," said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, Esq., spokesperson for the U.S. Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. "Thanks to him, and to a bipartisan majority of Congress, a woman who loses her child to a brutal attacker in a federal jurisdiction will no longer be told that she has lost nothing."
Ruse said the new law exemts abortion, but the abortion lobby fought it anyway "because it commits the unpardonable pro-choice sin ... 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," she continued.
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, and 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.
The new law was passed after Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant with her son, disappeared in December 2002 and was found murdered.
Currently, California is trying Peterson's husband, Scott, on double murder charges. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.