-- U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he was very pleased the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation protecting the unborn from acts of violence.
The unborn protection legislation, twice introduced by Graham while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and passed by that body in a bipartisan manner, has never been debated or voted on in the U.S. Senate.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill for the first time in March.
“It’s time for the Senate to take up this important protection for pregnant mothers and unborn children,” said Graham. “I think, regardless of pro-life or pro-choice feelings, that most Americans want to protect the unborn from violence by criminals,” said Graham. “When a woman chooses to have her child, a criminal should not take that away from her.”
Under current federal law, 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. Under the Unborn Victim of Violence Act (UVVA), if an unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of an already-defined federal crime of violence, the assailant could be charged with a separate offense on behalf of the unborn child.
The UVVA would apply this principle to over 60 existing federal laws dealing with acts of violence. These federal laws affect federal geographical jurisdictions, the military justice system, protection of federal officials, and specific acts defined by law as federal crimes.
As an example, Graham noted a situation where a pregnant woman visiting Capitol Hill 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.
“I believe most Americans want to protect life as much as possible," said Graham. “People who want to turn this into an abortion debate have an irrational view. The purpose of this bill is very simple: Once the woman chooses to have the child and someone takes that child away from her through an assault or an act of violence, we want to put them in jail for the damage 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.
“There is a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives committed to closing this scandalous gap in federal law,” said Graham. “I think it shows the bill isn’t about abortion but holding criminals accountable for their actions and protecting pregnant women to the fullest extent of the law.”
President Bush has said he will sign the measure into law if it passes Congress.