Three years ago, President Bush signed into law the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, effectively creating a new set of laws based on “fetal rights.” When examined against the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act passed by the House of Representatives last week, it becomes clear that those who advocate “fetal rights” actually value the rights of fetuses more than they do the rights of living women.
The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is based on the notion that there are two victims in any crime committed against a pregnant woman: the woman and her fetus. Under this law, if a pregnant woman’s fetus is injured in the course of a violent crime, the perpetrator of that crime is charged twice, once for attacking the woman and again for attacking the fetus.
Yet the same people who champion “the rights of the unborn” vigorously oppose the recent Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act that seeks to expand federal hate crimes legislation to include crimes committed on the basis of a person’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
Back when the Unborn Victims of Violence Act was first proposed, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) suggested amending it so that the new law simply carried stiffer penalties for crimes committed against pregnant women without treating the fetus as a victim too. She was ignored. Currently 24 states have laws on the books protecting “fetal rights” but only 19 have laws that consider gender-based crimes to be hate crimes (see my earlier post).
What does this all mean? First, it means that a federal law now protects the “rights” of a fetus separately from the rights of the woman in whose uterus it is growing. Secondly, until we have an expanded federal hate crimes bill that counts gender-based crimes as hate crimes, a fetus now has greater legal protection than a woman.
This means that if a woman is raped (a crime committed against her purely because of her sex), her attacker cannot be prosecuted under federal hate crimes legislation. However, if this woman happens to be pregnant and her fetus is injured in the course of the rape, then the rapist would be prosecuted under federal law, not for rape but for injuring the fetus! In this case, the rapist will actually be prosecuted more severely for harming a fetus than for raping a woman. And, should the damage to the fetus be so severe as to result in termination of the pregnancy, the attacker could also be charged with the federal crimes of fetal homicide or murder of the fetus.
At the same time, the supporters of this unborn victims law oppose a new set of federal laws that would classify attacks against women as hate crimes. These people clearly value fetuses more than women. Why else would they oppose expanding legal protections for women but support new laws protecting fetuses?
But more importantly, if a person can now be prosecuted for “murdering” a fetus, how much longer before women are completely barred from terminating their own pregnancies? “Abortion is Murder” might soon become more than just a pro-life slogan.