Apr 01 2004

Graham Authored Legislation Protecting Unborn Signed into Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s long, nearly five year effort to make it a crime at the federal level for a criminal to attack a pregnant woman and do harm to her unborn child is now law. At a White House East Room ceremony attended by Graham, President Bush today signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA). “Regardless of pro-life or pro-choice feelings, almost 80 percent of Americans want separate prosecutions of criminals who attack pregnant women and injure their unborn child,” said Graham. “When a woman chooses to have a child, no criminal should take that right away.” “Unfortunately, pregnant women are often attacked for the purpose of injuring or killing the unborn child,” said Graham. “It would be a grave injustice for the law to only recognize one victim in such cases.” Graham twice pushed the legislation through the House in a bipartisan manner, but until last week it never came up for debate or a vote in the U.S. Senate. That changed last Thursday, 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. UVVA closes the gap in federal law by allowing two prosecutions for more than 60 federal crimes of violence including crimes committed on federal property, crimes against federal personnel, and crimes committed on military bases. “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. “UVVA recognizes that families have suffered two traumatic events when a pregnant woman is attacked and allowing separate prosecutions is what justice demands,” said Graham. “It is a strong bipartisan statement to criminals who choose to attack pregnant women and their unborn children – you do so at your own peril.” #####