Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Bill Frist (R-TN) last Wednesday failed to gain Senate approval by unanimous consent for the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (S 1019), a bill which makes 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, which grants personhood and rights to a zygote, embryo or fetus at any stage of development, applies to over 60 federal crimes including interstate kidnapping and drug-related violence on federal property. Senate Minority Whip Harry Reid (D-NV) objected to the call for a vote, arguing that Senate Democrats were still drafting amendments to the measure, reported the Dayton Daily News.
Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee Constitution Subcommittee voted 6 to 3, approving HR 1997, the companion bill to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
The Feminist Majority joins other women’s organizations in opposing this bill – which is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, by granting personhood to a zygote, embryo or fetus. Abortion rights advocates say the Motherhood Protection Act of 2003 (HR 2247), proposed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is a more appropriate measure, because it proposes equally tough penalties for a person who harmed or killed a zygote, embryo or fetus while attacking a pregnant woman, but does not give the zygote, embryo or fetus personhood or rights.