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Senate Sends Dangerous Legislation To President’s Desk

Press Release
Priscilla Ring or Laurie Boeder

Women’s Reproductive Rights Threatened

The United States Senate’s passage of the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act” (H.R. 1997) erodes the foundation of Roe v. Wade and threatens a woman’s constitutionally protected privacy rights. The legislation is a backdoor attempt by anti-choice members of Congress to roll back reproductive choice by creating a separate criminal offense for causing the death or injury of a zygote, embryo or fetus in any state of development. The legislation is now headed straight to President Bush’s desk, where his record and public comments indicate he will sign the bill, once again undermining women’s reproductive rights and advancing his personal anti-choice agenda.

“Women’s constitutionally protected privacy and reproductive rights are more at risk than ever before,” said Ralph G. Neas, president of People For the American Way. “Today a majority of Senators said loud and clear that undermining women’s right to make personal decisions about their health and their families is a higher priority than protecting women from violence.”

Outrageously, the Senate rejected alternative legislation that would have guarded pregnant women from violence without threatening their constitutionally protected reproductive rights. Offered as a substitute by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the “Motherhood Protection Act” would have created a separate criminal offense for federal crimes against pregnant women, without establishing the zygote, embryo or fetus as an individual legal entity. This legislation would have provided equally harsh penalties for violence against pregnant women, but it would not have established separate legal rights for the zygote, embryo or fetus.

“Anti-choice members of Congress are turning back the clock on women’s fundamental rights and turning victims of violent crimes into political pawns,” added Neas. “President Bush should not demand that American women pay for protection from violence by sacrificing their reproductive freedom.”