Fetal Homicide: Always Two Victims of Violence

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Sarah Lavato had big plans for her unborn baby boy, Isaac Ray Lovato. Those plans were destroyed when both Sarah and Isaac were brutally shot to death. The untimely ending of Sarah’s life, and the death of her baby, ignited public controversy in New Mexico regarding “fetal status” and “fetal homicide.” This act of brutality produced questions in the legislative arena as to whether or not Sarah’s case was, in fact, a double homicide.

Radically liberal groups contend that since her “fetus was not viable,” it would not be considered a double homicide. The reasoning behind this thinking is that acknowledging an unborn child’s right to life would undermine the entire pro-abortion movement. Conceding a pregnant woman’s death as a double homicide would be inconsistent and would take away what the left has been working for so furiously: to enable women to get rid of their “inconvenient fetuses,” so that they will be free to live as they please.

In most states, laws regarding the issue of violent acts against pregnant women focus on the harm to the woman, and the child’s rights are not considered. Leftist organizations such as the ACLU are vehemently opposed to an unborn child being regarded as an individual with very real and tangible rights. This is primarily because they believe that the child’s rights would then “infringe” upon the mother’s rights, which would supposedly reduce her “privacy and autonomy.” The ACLU openly admits their position by saying that if fetal protection laws “pose a real threat to reproductive rights, as they often do, then we must intervene and oppose them.”

George W. Bush was firmly convinced that the rights of all human beings, regardless of size or so-called “viability,” should be fiercely protected. That’s why he signed The Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as “Laci and Connor’s Law.” This law was introduced following the murder of Laci Peterson, who was eight months pregnant with her son Connor when their bodies were found washed up on the San Francisco Bay. Fetal protection laws such as The Unborn Victims of Violence Act help bring justice to unborn children, who have no voice. A Newsweek poll released in May 2003 revealed that 84 percent of Americans echo this sentiment of serving justice and believe that when both the mother and unborn child die the attacker should be charged “for two murders instead of one.”

In 2004, Concerned Women for America (CWA) worked to move people to action and help give unborn children legal protection and justice by lobbying for Laci and Connor’s Law. Wendy Wright, then-CWA senior policy director, pointed out that “Roe v. Wade stripped all unborn children of being recognized in the eyes of the law. Legislation like Laci and Connor’s Law helps to right this wrong by bringing justice to little victims of violence.”

The most poignant statement on the matter comes from Sharon Rocha, Laci’s mother, whose unique experience helps her understand the very real pain and loss of losing a daughter and grandchild and the importance of insisting that justice be served. Mrs. Rocha finds it difficult to understand “why groups and senators who champion the pro-choice cause are blind to the fact that these two-victim crimes are the ultimate violation of choice. What about mothers who survive criminal attacks but lose their babies? I don’t understand how any senator can vote to force prosecutors to tell such a grieving mother that she didn’t really lose a baby – when she knows to the depths of her soul that she did. This is a question not only of severity but of justice. There were two bodies that washed up in San Francisco Bay, and the law should recognize that reality.”

Choice is a loaded concept. What would the child choose? Life, definitely. And, when life is taken away, justice. For the sake of unborn children, justice must be served.

Catherine Gainous is an intern with CWA’s Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program. To find out more about internships with CWA, click here.

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