WASHINGTON (BP)–The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee approved March 28 a bill to provide legal protection for unborn children who are harmed during federal crimes against their mothers.
The committee voted 15-9 in support of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which would criminalize violence resulting in injury or death to an unborn child when it is committed during a violent federal offense against a pregnant woman. Under the proposal, a person convicted of injuring or killing a child would be guilty of the same crime that would result from injury or death to the mother.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R.-Wis., chairman of the committee, said in a written release the bill will help close a “massive loophole [in current law] preventing full protection for pregnant women.”
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission supports the legislation.
Last year, the House of Representatives approved the bill in a 254-172 vote, but the Senate failed to act on it.
Though the bill says it does not apply to an abortion consented to by the mother, pro-life and pro-choice advocates squared off on it in the last session as if it were a major battle in the continuing struggle since the 1973 Roe v. Wade opinion legalized abortion.
Rep. Lindsay Graham, R.-S.C., is the chief sponsor of the bill, H.R. 503. The Constitution Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee had approved the bill only the week before.