Houses votes to protect unborn children
April 29, 2001
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation promoting the right to life of unborn children.
Under current federal law, individuals who commit violent federal crimes against pregnant women receive no additional punishment for killing or injuring the woman's unborn child as a result of the crime.
Should a criminal who takes the life of a baby in her mother's womb be treated the same as a criminal who breaks a victim's finger? Under current federal crime statutes, both criminals would likely only face simple assault charges.
The heartbreaking loss of a child is given the same treatment as a bump or a bruise.
That is why I co-sponsored a bill which passed the House last week stating that if a criminal assaults a woman and her unborn child, two victims have been harmed both the mother and the child. The bill allows prosecutors to charge criminals with a second offense if an unborn child is harmed.
This legislation, "The Unborn Victims of Violence Act" (H.R. 503), is crucial in the fight to deter acts of violence against women and the unborn. This bill stands up for the right to life of unborn children who are both defenseless and innocent.
President Bush supports this legislation to protect the rights of unborn children. The Bush administration officially stated its position on this bill saying it "supports protection for unborn children and therefore supports House passage of H.R. 503."
Life is a precious thing. Life is given to us by our Creator and we must always be mindful that the miracle of life must be respected and honored. In fact, life was cited by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence as the very first right we should protect.
But in recent years, the law has gotten wrapped up in technicalities and confused by special interest groups. Unfortunately, the right to life is no longer guaranteed.
Under current federal law, the government provides a greater level of protection to the egg of an endangered bald eagle than to the health and well-being of an unborn child. Criminals face greater sanctions for harming forms of plant life than they do for violently killing an unborn baby.
An individual who commits a federal crime of violence against a pregnant woman receives no additional punishment for killing or injuring the woman's unborn child during the commission of that crime; not one more minute of jail time, even if the child dies.
A handful of states including Indiana have already passed laws extending protection to an unborn child harmed in a criminal act. One such law in Arkansas transformed what would have been a simple assault charge into a murder conviction. It is imperative that we hold criminals responsible for their acts of violence against pregnant women and their unborn children.
The value of life is diminished by the high number of abortions in America and the glorification of senseless violence and killing that invades our culture through Hollywood's movies and television shows.
With more and more violent acts being committed by young children, clearly there is a need to speak out to promote life and remind our society that life-not violence should be celebrated.
Congress is now taking an important step toward re-establishing that right for all of us, including unborn babies.
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., represents Mississippi's Third Congressional District. Write to him at 427 Cannon Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 or call him at (202) 225-5031.