Criminal Bill Seeks to Unravel Roe v. Wade

August 5, 1999 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — In a fresh assault on Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, a House subcommittee has approved a bill that, for the first time, would protect unborn children with a federal criminal law.

According to the Associated Press, federal law does not now treat unborn children the same as the living.

The National Right to Life Committee, which supports the measure and helped draft it, told the AP that the legislation was the first of its kind at the federal level.

Under the bill, anyone who intentionally or unintentionally injured or killed an unborn child while committing a federal crime, such as a kidnapping or bank robbery, would be charged with an additional federal offense.

According to the AP, the legislation would amend federal criminal law and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It would not apply to an abortion that a woman agreed to have, or to acts by a pregnant woman that could affect her unborn.

It defines an unborn child as a “member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.”

Opponents criticized the effort to distinguish between a woman and her fetus.

“Such separation is merely the first step toward eroding a woman’s right to determine the fate of her own pregnancy and to direct the course of her own health care,” the American Civil Liberties Union told the AP.

Eleven states already have similar laws.

The primary sponsors of the bill, H.R. 2436, are Republican Reps. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Charles Canady of Florida and Christopher Smith of New Jersey.

In recent months, the ACLU has fought other attempts to limit the scope of Roe v. Wade. Read the story at /news/1999/w071899a.html.

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