July 8, 2003 - Posted at: 4:30 p.m. CDT
WASHINGTON -- Legislators are debating whether a fetus should be considered a crime victim.
The "Unborn Victims of Violence Act'' was the subject of a House subcommittee hearing today. Panel chairman Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, says most Americans recognize "the loss of a valuable life'' when a fetus dies as a result of violence.
Ranking Democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York argues that the focus should be on violence against pregnant women. He says no one disputes that it should be a separate crime with harsh penalties of up to life in prison. The only dispute is whether to recognize a fetus as a person.
But Tracy Marciniak, whose fetus died after a violent attack, said no surviving mother should be told that her "murdered loved one never even existed in the eyes of the law.''