Protection for the Unborn

Nov 102003
Authors: Melissa Snow

First let me tell you a story: Its Aug. 26, 1999, in Little

Rock, Ark. One day before her predicted full-term delivery date,

23-year-old college student Shiwona Pace is brutally beaten in her

apartment by three men. As she curls up on the floor sobbing, the

men choke her, punch her, hit her in the face with a gun, and

repeatedly kick her in the abdomen as they yell “f*** you, your

baby is dying tonight.” A half hour later, at the hospital, doctors

find that Heaven, her unborn baby girl, had died in her mother’s

womb that night. Investigations later reveal that the three men who

murdered little Heaven were paid $400 by Shiwona’s ex-boyfriend to

do so.

Now that I’ve told you this story, let’s talk results: How many

victims were there that night? Did a murder take place? What should

those three men be charged with?

Only a month before, a state law took effect that recognized

unborn children as crime victims. Therefore, the three men were

prosecuted not only with assaulting Shiwona, but with the murder of

her baby as well. However, if this same attack occurred today

within a federal jurisdiction, the law would say that there was

only one victim that night — Shiwana Pace. The men who killed

Shiwona’s baby could only be prosecuted for assault. The courts

would say that nobody died that night. And that is a lie.

That is where the Unborn Victims of Violence Act comes in.

During the 107th Congress, the House passed the UVVA in April 2001.

The Senate did not consider the bill in 2002. Some members of

Congress are expected to push for consideration of this bill during

the 108th Congress. If the bill passes the House and Senate,

President Bush has made it clear that he will sign it into law.

This legislation would create a separate criminal offense if an

individual kills or injures an “unborn child” while committing a

federal crime against a woman. Therefore, unborn children would be

recognized as victims under 68 federal laws dealing with crimes of

violence. The specific language of the bill would also mean that

for the first time, a zygote (a fertilized egg), embryo (through

week eight of a pregnancy) and a fetus would each be recognized as

a person distinct from the pregnant woman.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act would also, for the first

time, create separate legal rights for the fetus. The legislation

would undermine the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which

held that a fetus is not a real person within the meaning of the

14th amendment. Abortion rights groups like NARAL continue to

insist that such crimes only have one victim, because they

heartlessly refuse to acknowledge the unborn baby as a loss of life

in order to support their own pro-abortion agenda. Although the

legislation clearly excludes voluntary abortion, opponents of this

legislation believe that by creating separate legal rights for the

fetus, the law is “eroding a woman’s right to reproductive choice.”

This couldn’t be less true. The law is not forcing a woman to have

sexual intercourse, nor is it impeding in any way on her “right to

choose” whether or not she puts herself in a situation where she

may become pregnant. The law is not even forcing a woman to have an

abortion, or prohibiting her from doing the same. The law is simply

aimed at protecting the life of an innocent, unborn child. Period.

These pro-abortion groups are taking cases like the infamous Lacey

Peterson case, and claiming there was only one victim, that only

one person was murdered. These groups have blocked the federal

unborn victims bill, insisting on a competing “one-victim” proposal

that, in essence, would tell a grieving, surviving mother that she

didn’t really lose a baby, and that nobody really died in the


Opponents have objected to the bill’s recognition of the “child

in utero” as a member of the human race who can be harmed in a

crime. However, on July 25, 2000, the House passed a bill with

similar intentions, the Innocent Child Protection Act, which says

no state or federal authority may “carry out a sentence of death on

a woman while she carries a child in utero.” In this bill, carrying

out an execution would take two human lives, including one

convicted of no crime. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act would

extend the same ideas to the rest of the criminal laws, recognizing

that when a woman is attacked, and she and her unborn child are

either injured or killed, there are in fact two victims.

As of April 28, 26 states, including Colorado, have enacted laws

that recognize unborn children as human victims of violent crimes

covered by state laws. Fourteen of these states provide this

protections throughout the period of in-utero development, while

the other 12 provide protection during certain specified stages of

development. This bill must pass the House and the Senate and be

signed by the president because in almost half of our states, there

are parents who are told that they never lost a child, and

grandparents who are told that they never really had or lost a

grandchild. In almost half our states, there are babies who are

unprotected from murderers, and babies whose lives and deaths

“don’t really count.”

Melissa is a senior majoring in English. Her column runs every





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