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Legislative Reports

Legislative Report: 1999

Unborn Victims of Violence Act

Background: Under current federal law, an individual who commits a federal crime of violence against a pregnant woman receives no additional punishment for also killing or injuring the woman's unborn child. H.R. 2436 narrows this gap in the law by providing that an individual who injures or kills an unborn child during the commission of certain federal crimes of violence will be guilty of a separate offense. The punishment for that separate offense is the same as the punishment for that conduct if the mother had suffered injury or death (the death penalty is excluded). H.R. 2436 amends both the U.S. Code and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The bill does not apply to performing an abortion to which the woman consents, medical treatment of the pregnant woman or her unborn child, or to a woman for any action in relation to her unborn child.

House: On July 1, Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (H.R. 2436). The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee and to the Armed Services Committee. The measure has 94 cosponsors.

On Sept. 14, the House Judiciary Committee approved the bill, with all weakening amendments being rejected.

On Sept. 30, during debate on H.R. 2436, the House rejected the Lofgren Substitute Amendment that would address penalties in terms of harm to the mother, 201-yes, 224-no, 9 not voting. (Roll Call 464) The House then approved the bill, 254-yes, 172-no, 8 not voting. (Roll Call 465)

Senate: On Sept. 30, Sen. Michael DeWine (R-OH) introduced a companion bill in the Senate (S. 1673). That bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. The measure has 10 cosponsors. Senate action is expected in 2000.

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