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Feminist News


April-27-01

Unborn Victims of Violence Act Passes in the House

With a 252 to 172 vote, the House of Representatives passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act on Thursday, which makes knowingly or unknowingly harming or killing a zygote, embryo or fetus while attacking a pregnant woman, during the commission of a federal crime, a separate and punishable crime. The bill also gives personhood and rights to a zygote, embryo or fetus at any stage of development, making this bill widely viewed as an anti-abortion rights vote.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), vice chair of the Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues led the pro-choice opposition to the bill, and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced a substitute measure that proposed equally tough penalties for a person who harmed or killed a zygote, embryo or fetus while attacking a pregnant woman, but did not give the zygote, embryo or fetus personhood or rights.

Introduced by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the Unborn Victims of Violence Act passed by a similar margin in the House while President Clinton was in office, but died in the Senate because Clinton promised a veto. With an anti-woman, anti-choice president in office now, conservatives know President Bush will sign the Act if passed in the Senate. However, the split Senate may kill the bill before Bush has an opportunity to sign it.

Media Resources: New York Times April 27, 2001; Washington Post April 27, 2001; About.com April 26, 2001; Congresswoman Louise Slaughters website