Senate Votes to Make Harming a Fetus a Crime
The Senate voted Thursday to make it a separate crime to harm a fetus during commission of a violent federal crime, a victory for those seeking to expand the legal rights of the unborn.
The 61-38 vote on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act sends the legislation, after a five-year battle in Congress, to President Bush for his signature. The White House said in a statement that it “strongly supports protection for unborn children.” The House passed the bill last month.
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said the bill was “powerful because this act is about simple humanity, about simple reality.”
But abortion rights lawmakers contended that giving a fetus, from the point of conception, the same legal rights as its mother sets a precedent that could be used in future legal challenges to abortion rights.
No kidding. It’s rather strange to make it a crime to hurt a fetus but simultaneously enshrine the right to murder it in the Constitution. The distinction–that one is an externality and the other a conscious decision by an erstwhile “mother”–is probably adequate to pass legal muster, even if it seems irrelevant from a moral standpoint, given that the victim has no say in either case.
And this is interesting:
The Senate cleared the way for passage with a 50-49 vote to defeat an amendment, backed by opponents of the bill, that would have increased penalties for harm to a pregnant woman but did not attempt to define when human life begins.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., President Bush’s opponent this fall, interrupted his campaign schedule to vote yes on the amendment. He voted no on final passage.
To quote Ronald Reagan, “There he goes again.”