Unborn-Victims Act Praised by Vatican Official

Bishop Sgreccia Calls U.S. Law «Important Event»

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ROME, APRIL 2, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A new U.S. law designed to protect unborn victims of violence is an important event «juridically and ethically,» says a Vatican official.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, commented today on Vatican Radio about the measure signed into law a day earlier by U.S. President George Bush.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act provides that, under federal law, anyone who causes death or injury to a child in the womb will be charged with a separate offense, in addition to any charges relating to the mother.

«As of today,» Bush said, «the law of our nation will acknowledge the plain fact that crimes of violence against a pregnant woman often have two victims.»

«Undoubtedly, it is, juridically and ethically, a very important event,» Bishop Sgreccia said of the new law.

He noted that U.S. Supreme Court decisions have focused on the principle of woman’s rights. But the new law shows «there is another priority principle: that the fetus represents a human being who has juridical importance, who must be respected as man,» the bishop said.

Bishop Sgreccia believes the obstacle to recognizing the parity between the fetus and the human being is motivated by the fact that «it goes against a principle called ‘autonomy,’ and a libertarian principle that wants adults to have the power of life and death over the ‘nasciturus.'»

«This is anti-human,» he said, «because it goes against the equality of all men, of all human beings, and the human being does not begin at birth but before.»

In Washington, D.C., a U.S. bishops’ aide also welcomed the new law.

«We applaud the president for bringing justice to women and their children who are victims of violent crime,» said Cathy Cleaver Ruse, spokeswoman for the bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

«Thanks to him, and to a bipartisan majority of Congress,» she said, «a woman who loses her child to a brutal attacker in a federal jurisdiction will no longer be told that she has lost nothing.»

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