March 25, 2004
WASHINGTON - Senator Inhofe today heralded the passage of long-overdue legislation that will allow for the separate prosecution of federal violent crimes that kill or injure an unborn child. The "Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004 or 'Laci and Conner's Law" (HR.1997) passed the Senate today (61-38) with no amendments attached. "Today we in the Senate can claim victory for the unborn souls of America," Inhofe said. "We must fill this tragic gap in federal criminal code that has rendered our federal courts blind to the rights of this nation's unborn children subjected to violence. We are one step closer to filling that gap after today. "The House overwhelmingly passed this bill in late February and I am pleased that we here in the Senate have moved swiftly to push this fundamental and necessary legislation toward law." Currently, an individual who commits a federal violent crime against an unborn child cannot be prosecuted separately for that crime because federal criminal law does not recognize the unborn child as a crime victim. Under this bill, if an unborn child is injured or killed during the already defined federal crime of violence, then the assailant could be charged with a separate offense on behalf of the unborn child. This legislation does not apply to any abortion to which a woman has consented, any act of the mother herself, or any form of treatment. Additionally, this legislation does not supercede state unborn victim laws, nor would it impose such a state that has not enacted one. Having passed both the Senate and the House, the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004" will now go to conference.