U.S. House Approves Unborn-Victims Bill

But Its Chances in the Senate Are Unclear

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WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 26, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. House of Representatives voted to treat attacks on a pregnant woman as separate crimes against both her and her unborn child.



The House voted 254-163 for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, a bill actively backed by the White House.

Backers highlighted the bill by naming it in honor of Laci and Conner Peterson, a pregnant woman in California who was murdered in December 2002, and her unborn child.

Laci's husband Scott Peterson faces double murder charges under California's state unborn victims law. California is one of 29 states that have enacted such laws, and supporters said Congress needs to bring the federal government in line with state laws, the Associated Press said.

The bill's prospects in the Senate are unclear.

Last week, Cardinal William Keeler has urged congressional approval of the bill and rejection of any substitute that would nullify its intent. He chairs the U.S. bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities.

The legislation would protect unborn children whose mothers are physically assaulted, beaten, maimed, or murdered in violation of specified provisions of the federal criminal code.

Cardinal Keeler noted that the legislation explicitly excludes abortion. "Therefore it is all the more disappointing that some insist the bill should nonetheless be defeated to somehow preserve a 'right' to abortion," he had said. "This bill simply ensures that both mother and child are protected from violent assault and murder."