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Unborn victims bill in Congress again

WASHINGTON (BP)–A measure to provide legal protection for unborn children who are harmed during the commission of a federal crime was reintroduced Feb. 7.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act 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. The bill would not affect any state laws.

Last year, the House of Representatives approved the legislation in a 254-172 vote, but the Senate failed to act on it. Though it did not reach his desk, advisers had urged President Clinton to veto the bill if it did.

Rep. Lindsey Graham, R.-S.C., chief sponsor of the bill, expressed hope both houses would pass it and President Bush would sign it.

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission supports the proposal.

Though the bill 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.

“This legislation does not affect Roe v. Wade,” Graham said in a written release. “It’s about violence against women and holding criminals accountable for their actions. I’ve tried to strike a delicate balance between protecting the unborn while not wandering into the divisive, highly charged, emotional battleground of abortion. My interests lie in protecting women and their unborn children, not sparking a political fight.”

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