WASHINGTON, March 26, 2004 ( – The U.S. Senate passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act by a vote of 61-38 Thursday. The bill, also known as “Laci and Conner’s Law,” recognizes the unborn child as a second victim when he or she is killed or injured during the commission of a violent federal crime. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the bill on February 26, by a margin of 254-163. U.S. President George W. Bush, a vocal proponent of the legislation, is expected to sign the bill into law.  The Senate narrowly defeated a substitute proposal by 50-49. The Single-Victim Substitute, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.), would have codified the doctrine that when a woman and her unborn child are injured or killed during a federal crime, that crime has only a single victim. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) voted for the Feinstein Single-Victim Substitute.  “Apparently, John Kerry believes that if a criminal commits a federal crime that injures a pregnant woman and kills her unborn son or daughter, prosecutors should tell the grieving mother that she did not really lose a baby,” stated National Right to Life Committee Legislative Director Douglas Johnson.  According to three national public opinion polls, about 80% of the public agrees that a crime like the killing of Laci and Conner Peterson in California has two victims and should be charged as two homicides. The position of opponents of the bill that such crimes have only one victim—the pregnant woman—is supported by only 7 to 10% of the public in the three polls cited.

Members of families who have lost loved ones—born and unborn—in violent crimes, were in Washington this week to urge senators to recognize that these crimes have two victims. These included Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski, the mother and stepfather of Laci Peterson and grandparents of Conner. The State of California is prosecuting that crime as a double homicide.

Visit the NRLC website, which contains extensive resources on unborn victims of violence and fetal homicide laws, at:   Read related coverage at:   Read John Kerry’s letter opposing the new bill at: