Politicians are quickly chipping away at women’s reproductive
health rights and inching closer to overturning Roe v. Wade. While
most of us like to believe that it can’t or it won’t happen, the
truth is, it’s unfolding before our very eyes.
Last Thursday, the Senate passed a Republican-backed bill that
for the first time would recognize an embryo or fetus as a separate
person under law. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act was initiated
after the killing of Laci Peterson while she was pregnant. Sen.
Dianne Feinstein proposed an amendment to the legislation that
called for increased penalties on crimes that brought harm to a
woman’s pregnancy, but that maintained that an attack on a pregnant
woman was still a single victim crime.
It is sad, unfortunate and nothing short of disgusting that
Republicans are willing to go to such lengths to further their
anti-choice agenda. What is so upsetting and unsettling about this
is the way that they have capitalized on a high-profile murder case
and how they have used an issue that tugs at the heartstrings to
distort the real issue at hand.
Most people, pro-choice or not, would not argue the fact that
what happened to Laci Peterson and her unborn child was a horrible
travesty and that the person responsible will not receive adequate
punishment. But will this bill really prevent more of these kinds
of crimes? Will it make a difference if someone is sentenced to
life in prison or double life in prison?
This bill is packaged a certain way, but open it up and the
contents are completely different. The language of the bill is what
many pro-choice leaders fear will be used as legal rationale to
overturn Roe v. Wade, a tactic that is certainly intentional.
Bush has already made the so-called “partial-birth abortion”
illegal, appointed 169 anti-choice judges and will certainly sign
this bill into law when it reaches his desk. And if he is
re-elected, make no mistake about it, Roe v. Wade will find itself
being argued again in the Supreme Court and the Unborn Victims of
Violence Act will be the justification to overturn it.
In the words of Mills College President Janet Holmgren, “I can’t
remember a time in my history when defending women’s reproductive
right’s was more important. We must mobilize men and women to
defend against the current attack.”