March 17, 2001
volume 12, no. 76

US House Mulls Infant Protection Act

    WASHINGTON, DC, Mar. 16, 01 ( and AP) - A US House of Representatives subcommittee has resurrected a bill that would make it a felony to harm an unborn child during a violent criminal act.

    The bill, which critics say is an attempt to restrict access to abortion, was first proposed last year, but died in the Senate when former President Bill Clinton said he would veto it. Rep. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, the measure's sponsor, said, "I think most Americans see the need for this and understand the logic of it. States have had the same statute for many years now."

    President George W. Bush has signaled his willingness to sign the bill if it reaches his desk. Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, said Bush's election "does remove one very substantial obstacle."

    Pro-life lawmakers say it's a fairness issue that ensures criminals are, as pro-life Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) said, ``justly punished for injuring or killing unborn children.'' Abortion advcates contend it is the pro-life advocates latest attempt to chip away at the so-called right to abortion by defining an unborn child as a person with rights separate from the mother's.

    ``The implication seems to be that this bill is driven by the politics of abortion,'' said pro-abortion Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary's Constitution subcommittee, which held a hearing Thursday.

    Thursday's debate highlighted what is likely to be an important and oft-debated issue this legislative session as pro-life lawmakers, buoyed by having a pro-life president in the White House, attempt to pass numerous pieces of pro-life legislation.

    Last time, a similar bill passed the House 254-172 last year but never made it out of the Senate.

    "This bill offers real protection to the unborn against acts of violence," said Holly Gatling, President of the South Carolina Citizens for Life. "A majority of states already have similar statutes on the books. It's time we make this important change in federal law as well."

March 17, 2001
volume 12, no. 76
Pro Life News
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