Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
– Nearly five years have passed since then-U.S. Representative Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) authored and introduced the Unborn Victims of Violence Act
in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Even though Graham twice pushed the legislation through the House in a bipartisan manner, it never came up for debate or a vote in the U.S. Senate. Until today, when as a U.S. Senator, Graham played a leading role along with Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) in pushing the legislation through the Senate and on to the White House for President Bush’s signature.
“It has been a long journey and we have now cleared the last hurdle,” said Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “After five years of hard work Congress is going to make it a crime at the federal level for a criminal to attack a pregnant woman and do harm to her unborn child. The legislation is on its way to President Bush and he will sign it into law.”
“It’s a very good day for pregnant women and their unborn children,” said Graham. “It’s also a very bad day for the criminals who wish to do them harm.”
The UVVA applies to more than 60 federal crimes of violence including crimes committed on federal property, crimes against federal personnel, and crimes committed on military bases. Some examples of federal crimes of violence include drug-related shootings, car jacking, violence at an international airport, and terrorist attacks.
“I think regardless of pro-life or pro-choice feelings that most Americans want to protect the unborn from violent criminals,” said Graham. “When a woman chooses to have her child, a criminal should not take it away from her.”
“The Laci Peterson case is a clear example of a situation where two victims were involved,” said Graham. “Under California law, separate prosecutions are allowed for death or injury to the unborn child or mother. There is no such provision in federal law dealing with federal crimes of violence.”
As an example, Graham noted a situation where a pregnant woman visiting the U.S. Capitol is assaulted and loses her unborn child. Since the Capitol is under Federal jurisdiction and there is currently no law on the federal books, the assailant could only be held accountable for the crime against the mother. The assailant would face no charge or receive no punishment for the harm done to the unborn child.
The UVVA specifically exempts abortions from the list of prosecutable offenses. The bill does not permit prosecution: (1) for conduct relating to an abortion for which the consent of the pregnant woman has been obtained or for which consent is implied by law in a medical emergency; (2) for conduct relating to any medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child; or (3) of any woman with respect to her unborn child.
The legislation passed the House of Representatives in February 2004 by a vote of 254-163.