On February 26, by a vote of 254 to 163, the House passed a bill (H.R. 1997) punishing violence against pregnant women by legally counting their unborn children as persons. The bill presented a quandary for supporters of abortion because they are skittish about treating the unborn as human beings.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Melissa Hart (R.-Pa.), was strongly supported by the family of murder victim Laci Peterson, who was killed along with her unborn son Conner last year in California.
Under current federal law, perpetrators of violence against pregnant women receive no additional punishment even if it results in the death of the woman’s unborn child. Hart’s measure contains an exception for the violence involved in an abortion consented to by a pregnant woman or a person authorized by law to act on her behalf. But this did little to staunch the anger of liberals fearing “women’s choice” issues were at risk.
“The bill before us today would give a fetus the same recognition as you or I for the first time in Federal law,” said abortion supporter Rep. Nita Lowey (D.-N.Y.), as if this recognition were a bad thing. Similarly, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D.-Calif.), called the bill “dishonest.”
“This bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” said Woolsey, who recently caused a stir by intervening in a California court case on behalf of a convicted rapist to minimize his sentence. She called the bill “a proposal to undermine reproductive rights dressed up as a bill to punish violent crimes against women.”
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D.-Calif.) proposed a substitute that would have avoided treating an unborn person as a person by making it a federal criminal offense to assault a pregnant woman causing “injury or termination of her pregnancy.” The substitute failed in a vote of 186 to 229.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D.-N.Y.) weighed in heavily against the bill: “We cannot agree to the bill, because the whole point of the bill is to establish legally separate fetal personhood, This would undermine the entire rationale of Roe v. Wade and undermine a woman’s right to choose, because if a fetus is a separate legal person, how can she choose to terminate the pregnancy?”
Republicans insisted that this was not an abortion issue, but rather one strictly dealing with justice. Conservative Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) called the passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act a victory for justice in America. Pence said: “This is not a debate about life–this is about justice, this is about compassion, and this is about this Congress standing for what justice demands. This is not about the thorny issues that surround the debate over a woman’s right to choose or the right to life.”
Likewise, Rep. Mike Ferguson (R.-N.J.) said that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act “should be common sense” and that he was mystified by those who “seemed to be hysterical in their opposition to commonsense legislation.”
A “yes” vote was a vote for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, to criminalize violence against the unborn. A “no” vote was a vote against the bill.
|FOR THE BILL: 254||AGAINST THE BILL: 179|
|REPUBLICANS FOR: 207
Davis, Jo Ann
DEMOCRATS FOR: 47
|REPUBLICANS AGAINST: 13
DEMOCRATS AGAINST: 149
INDEPENDENTS AGAINST: 1
NOT VOTING: 16
|REPUBLICANS (7):||DEMOCRATS (9):||INDEPENDENTS (0)|