- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Few things embody life's promise or life's fragility like the smile of an expectant mother or the peaceful sleep of a newborn. Perhaps that's why the brutal murders of Connor Peterson and his expectant mother, Laci, have so provoked us. Both individuals were transforming into something extraordinary. Laci was on the verge of parenthood; Connor had passed into personhood.
Both were cut down when at their most vulnerable. While it is not certain who killed them Scott Peterson should have his day in court it is clear that the person who murdered Laci and Connor should face the full measure of punishment the state is empowered to mete out for not one, but two cold-blooded murders.
California is one of 26 states that have established statues to protect unborn persons and their pregnant mothers. While the definitions and penalties vary, all such statutes recognize that a crime against a pregnant woman is a crime against two individuals. Under California law, killing an unborn child after it has passed through its embryonic stage about two months into the pregnancy is considered a murder. Under Missouri statutes, the killing of a child at any stage of prenatal development is considered a crime, ranging from involuntary manslaughter to premeditated murder.
Few dispute that at some point, while still in the womb, unborn infants become alive. Connor Peterson was, by any reasonable measure. He had brain activity; he could respond to pain; he had a heartbeat. As a normally developing child, he would have had the use of taste and touch, hearing and vision. He would have been able to recognize Laci's voice. Had he been born prematurely or delivered by a Caesarean section, no one would have disputed his personhood. Connor may have even had a soul certainly he had been touched with the fingertips of the eternal.
That alone is reason enough for passage of federal legislation to punish those who inflict vile, violent crimes on unborn victims and their mothers. Since no such federal statute currently exists, murdering an unborn child on federal property (i.e., a military base) is no worse than breaking an individual's finger in a brawl. Earlier this year, Sen. Mike DeWine, Ohio Republican, introduced legislation (S 146) to close that loophole, and Rep. Melissa Hart, Pennsylvania Republican, is expected to offer similar legislation in the House soon. Like their state counterparts, the federal bills contain exceptions for abortion there's no prosecution if the woman has voluntarily terminated her pregnancy.
Such exceptions make the objections made by some pro-choicers that unborn victims statutes will overthrow Roe vs. Wade insupportable. Courts have yet to find anything unconstitutional in even the most broadly written unborn victim's statute. However, it is ironic that the killing of an undesired unborn via procedures permitted under Roe results in no legal consequences for any of the participants, while the killing of a desired unborn can result in a death sentence for the perpetrator.
None of this should stop Congress from acting on the DeWine bill as soon as possible. The murders of Connor and Laci Peterson prove how critical it is that society's most vulnerable be protected from society's most violent.

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