March 2004


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Mary Howland <[log in to unmask]>
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Choice Coalition <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 26 Mar 2004 08:21:03 -0500
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Here it is! Another attack from the right!Once again this just shows how we have to be organized and strong in our opposition. Announce the march EVERYWHERE! All your classes!

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Senate Outlaws Injury to Fetus During a Crime

March 26, 2004

WASHINGTON, March 25 - The Senate approved legislation on
Thursday making it a separate offense to harm the fetus in
a federal crime committed against a pregnant woman, sending
the measure to President Bush for his signature.

Opponents denounced the bill, adopted on a vote of 61 to
38, as an effort to undermine the constitutional right to
abortion by recognizing the fetus as a person.

The House passed the measure on Feb. 26, 254 to 163.

Senate's action was the second major victory in the
Republican controlled Congress for the anti-abortion
movement, which had sought this legislation since 1999.
Last November, Mr. Bush signed into law a ban on the
procedure that critics call partial-birth abortion. He
strongly supported the latest legislation, referred to as
the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the presumptive
Democratic presidential nominee, voted against the measure
and was criticized by family members of crime victims on
hand for the debate.

Both sides anticipate such social issues will loom large
this fall in a polarized presidential election, with the
opposing campaigns seeking to galvanize their core
supporters by highlighting stark differences on social

In a statement issued Thursday night Mr. Bush said,
"Pregnant women who have been harmed by violence, and their
families, know that there are two victims - the mother and
the unborn child - and both victims should be protected by
federal law."

Arguing for approval of the measure, its Senate sponsors
listed a series of high-profile crimes like the Laci
Peterson murder and said their sole objective was to
establish in criminal law the principle that a fetus
injured in an assault was just as much a victim of the
crime as the expectant mother.

"It's as simple as that," said Senator Mike DeWine,
Republican of Ohio and the chief Senate author of the
measure. "This bill recognizes that when someone attacks
and harms a mother and her unborn child, that attack does,
in fact, result in two separate victims."

Opponents of the proposal, while saying they sympathized
with the desire to severely punish anyone who would attack
pregnant women, said they were troubled by the definition
of the "child in utero" covered under the bill as "a member
of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development,
who is carried in the womb."

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and
others said they believed that once that definition was
written into federal law it would ultimately be used as an
argument to overturn existing laws protecting abortion

"This will be the first strike against all abortion in the
United States of America," Ms. Feinstein said. She said a
federal statute declaring that life begins at conception
could ultimately lead to a court finding that "embryonic
stem cell research becomes murder and abortion in the first
trimester becomes murder as well."

"That's where this debate is taking us," Ms. Feinstein
said, "that's the reason for this bill."

But the Senate rejected on a vote of 50 to 49 her amendment
that would have allowed criminals to be charged with a
second offense for harming a fetus or terminating a woman's
pregnancy without granting new legal status to the fetus.

Senators also rejected another Democratic amendment, one
that would have required companies to provide unpaid leave
for victims of domestic or sexual violence, a policy that
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, said was a
better way to reduce crimes against women.

"Despite the rhetoric, they are not truly willing to do
something about domestic violence," Ms. Murray said.

Backers of the measure said that crimes like the slaying in
California of Mrs. Peterson had built strong public support
for the bill. The body of Mrs. Peterson, who was almost
eight months pregnant when she vanished on Christmas Eve
2002, and that of her infant boy washed ashore last April.

Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, exhibited
graphic photographs of pregnant crime victims. The measure
had never before reached the full Senate.

The Congressional action follows decisions by more than two
dozen states to make the fetus a second victim of a crime.
A Republican analysis of the legislation said it covered 68
federal crimes of violence such as those occurring on
federal lands, in drug trafficking and in the military.

The authors of the bill dismissed the claim that it was a
back-door attack on abortion rights, saying the legislation
specifically exempts abortions consented to by the woman.

"It's not about abortion," said Senator Lindsey Graham,
Republican of South Carolina and an advocate for the bill
in his previous years in the House. "It is about criminals
who attack pregnant women."

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National
Right to Life Committee, said court reviews of similar
existing state laws had found there was no conflict between
the criminal statutes and the existing right to an abortion
granted under Roe vs. Wade.

"These criminals are not performing abortions," Mr. Johnson

A leader of the abortion rights movement said that
lawmakers who backed the legislation had sided with
conservative anti-abortion activists.

"Instead of passing a consensus bill to punish criminals
for their horrific acts, the president's allies are taking
advantage of this issue to further their campaign to oppose
a woman's right to choose," said Kate Michelman, president
of Naral Pro-Choice America.

Records Ruling Stands

A federal judge in Manhattan decided yesterday not to
reconsider his order forcing New York-Presbyterian Hospital
to turn over to the Justice Department records on abortions
performed there, saying that such a move would have
"grossly disadvantaged" government preparations for a

The judge, Richard Conway Casey of Federal District Court,
issued the order last week, saying the disclosure would not
unduly harm the hospital or the privacy of its patients.
Judge Casey said the records were not covered by federal
laws governing medical privacy because the hospital could
delete information that identified women who received


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