Politics & Policy

Do It For Conner

Protecting unborn victims of violence.

Where have all the women gone? There was Kate Michelman, standing behind Sen. Maria Cantwell and the rest of the obstruction Dems on Capitol Hill last week. Together they once again blasted Texas Supreme Court judge Priscilla Owen — a sister! but an ideological heretic — for being the latest bunker-buster headed for the federal bench in order to destroy the penumbras and emanations-of-penumbras of Roe v. Wade. Or so the liberal Democratic interpretation goes.

But why, meanwhile, are the “feminists” nowhere to be seen defending Scott Peterson’s right to choose to kill his nearly newborn child? Sure, we all know they’re against the murder of Laci Peterson: In fact, NOW has made that clear — as they should. But what about Laci’s son, Conner? She had made her choice — can’t the sisters respect that?

Maybe they can’t-to do so could, after all, be considered a victory for the right-wingers who want to oppress women. When Marva Stark, a NOW chapter head from New Jersey, blurted out, “If this is murder, well, then any time a late-term fetus is aborted, they could call it murder,” she was just toeing the party line. This is what they believe. This is what they have long believed. Don’t give an inch to protect the most innocent lives.

When asked to defend Stark’s statement, however, the women soon fell silent. It seemed as though they’d held a conference call and all agreed simply not to talk about it. Conner Peterson could be really bad for business, gals, they agreed.

He sure is. Their position might not have changed a bit on fetal protection, but the pro-abortion sorority didn’t want to be that obvious, not with the image of Laci and talk of Conner on television sets and news stories — and makeshift memorials dedicated to them both. However much they agreed with her sentiments, Stark’s pro-abortion sisters quickly fell silent, therefore, knowing the emotion surrounding the Peterson case would make their political position simply untenable. After all, as one poll recently revealed, 84 percent of registered voters nationwide agree that a double-homicide charge is appropriate in the Peterson case. Most people view the killing of a pregnant woman as a crime with two casualties. And that’s just too much for the pro-abortion movement to handle. So much for Laci’s right to choose.

They’d like the issue to go away. But it shouldn’t. Now that the combat operations in Iraq are over, and the press is focused on the Peterson case, Congress ought to do a little something in Conner’s memory.

Congress ought to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act immediately — before Conner Peterson’s memory gives way to another news cycle.

It’s not only about Conner Peterson, of course — or about news-cycle policymaking. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act has been introduced before, and reflects similar bills in at least 26 states nationwide. The federal bill would recognize all unborn children injured or murdered during the commission of federal crimes as legal victims. This week, Sen. Mike DeWine (R., Ohio) and Rep. Melissa Hart (R., Pa.) both introduced the bill in their respective houses.

The White House has called on Congress to pass the bill “this year.” Late last month, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said: “The President does believe that when and unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of a crime of violence, the law should recognize what most people immediately recognize, and that is that such a crime has two victims.”

The feminists who are keeping quiet on the issue of Conner Peterson and his life’s worth ought to be made to defend their policy. NOW president Kim Gandy has said that the Unborn Victims of Violence Act is about “lay[ing] the groundwork for dismantling Roe v. Wade.” The Center for Reproductive Rights has called it “bad law.”

This week, Laci Peterson’s family — actually, “Laci and Conner’s Family,” as they sign their letter — came out in support of the federal legislation. They write: “As the family of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner this bill is very close to our hearts… Knowing that perpetrators who murder pregnant women will pay the price not only for the loss of the mother, but the baby as well, will help bring justice for these victims and hopefully act as a deterrent to those considering such heinous acts.”

Despite the silence from the “feminists” since Stark’s faux pas, some have broken the pact. In USA Today on April 30, former Michael Dukakis campaign manager Susan Estrich wrote, attacking supporters of fetal protection: “Conner Peterson . . . doesn’t deserve, however, to be used to score points in a debate that should have nothing to do with this case. The least we can do to honor Laci and Conner Peterson’s memories is to not use them as pawns in a politicized debate over abortion.” Of course, Estrich is being disingenuous: She “skirts” the “whole abortion debate” by supporting a one-victim pregnant-woman law, that would, as Douglas Johnson from the National Right to Life Committee points out, “would codify the position that Sharon Rocha [Laci Peterson’s mother] didn’t really lose a grandson,” just her daughter.

Members of Congress should kick the Unborn Victims of Violence debate up a notch: As the Rocha family suggest in their letter to Rep. Hart and Sen. DeWine: How about naming the bill after Conner? Unless another Stark strays from the conference-call agreement, don’t bet your money on the women’s groups opposing the Conner Peterson Unborn Victims of Violence Act too vocally.

Though there will be some. On April 28, Democratic congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said, “I think these right-wing groups are despicable for taking this tragic event and trying to use it for their own political ends.” Surely it’s a lot more “despicable” to ignore the unborn victims of non-abortion violence. But if the self-appointed spokeswomen for women want to argue, they should go ahead. Let them answer to the 84 percent. And let them answer to Laci and Conner’s family.

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