WASHINGTON, APR. 26, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. House of Representatives handily passed a bill today that would criminalize harm brought to an unborn child when a violent act is committed against its mother.
The bill would allow a second criminal offense to be filed if the pregnant woman attacked sustains an injury to her unborn child, or if the pregnancy is terminated because of the assault.
The legislation passed 252-172, with 53 opposition Democrats lending their support. The Associated Press reported that the House passed virtually identical legislation last session by a 254-172 vote, but the Senate never took it up.
“This bill should have the support of everyone in Congress,” said Representative Sue Myrick, a North Carolina Republican. “We should all agree to help young women from forced, cruel and painful abortions.”
Those who spoke in opposition said the bill represented an effort on the part of Republicans to uproot the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand.
The House rejected, 229-196, a “one-victim” substitute measure, backed by abortion activists, which would essentially say there is only one victim in an assault — the mother.
Twenty-four states already have enacted laws that recognize unborn children as victims of violent crimes, and these states have been upheld by the courts, according to the National Right to Life Committee.