One Victim, or Two?

On the worst night of her life, Tracy Marciniak -- nine months pregnant -- was brutally attacked by her own husband. He punched her in the abdomen and then kept her from calling for help. Tracy nearly died from the assault, and her son Zachariah -- just five days from his due date -- bled to death from blunt-force trauma. A picture taken at his funeral shows a grieving mother holding what appears to be a healthy, sleeping baby. Seeing the picture, most people would see two victims of crime. But incredibly, some lawmakers insist that there's only one victim in the picture: Tracy. As far as they're concerned, Zachariah cannot be a crime victim because he had not yet been born when his father killed him. And that's exactly why Congress needs to pass the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (S. 1019). As Tracy told Congress, "I know that some lawmakers . . . insist that there is no such thing as an unborn victim -- but that is callous, and it is wrong. Please don't tell me that my son was not a real victim of a real crime. We were both victims, but only I survived . . . The man who killed Zachariah got away with murder." The family of Laci Peterson and her unborn child, Conner, also know what it's like to be told they lost only one family member to murder, as one feminist leader claimed. That's why the family wants this bill called the "Laci and Conner's Law." The Unborn Victims of Violence Act will allow prosecutors to go after those who injure or kill an unborn child while committing a violent federal crime. The bill would not affect abortion laws, and yet the abortion lobby is trying frantically to kill it. Why? It's because they know that a law protecting a Conner or Zachariah changes the entire abortion debate. Up until now, abortion zealots have successfully portrayed abortion as a hard choice women make only in desperate circumstances. They say the fetus is not really a "person," that a woman's "choice" is nobody else's business. But who could see pictures of Zachariah and still believe the fetus is less than a human person? Who could witness the agony of Conner Peterson's grandparents and still believe that the death of an unborn child affects no one but the mother? Most dangerous of all, for the abortion lobby, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act portrays the baby as a victim, which sets up an unpleasant conflict in the hearts and minds of Americans. If the fetus is a person, how can we take his life indiscriminately? And if it's illegal for fathers to bludgeon unborn babies to death, why are we letting mothers hire an abortionist to do the same thing? The House of Representatives has twice passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. But in the Senate, abortion groups have, so far, blocked its passage. When Congress comes back next month, the Senate will debate this bill once again. So between now and then, by phone, letter, or e-mail, urge your two senators to support it. As Tracy Marciniak put it, "No surviving mother, father, or grandparent should ever again be told that their murdered loved one never even existed in the eyes of the law." Take action: Urge your 2 senators to support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (S. 1019) to protect mothers and their unborn children from violence. The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. Visit for mailing and e-mail addresses. For further reading and information: BreakPoint commentary No. 030523, "The Meaning of Persons." (Archived commentary; free registration required.) Read Tracy Marciniak's testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Committee on the Judiciary (as posted on National Right to Life's website). "One Victim . . . or Two?" Susan B. Anthony List's information page on the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. "Fetal-Rights Debate Contains Shades of Gray," FOX News, 4 August 2003. Bryan Robinson, "Unborn Pioneer," ABC News, 8 May 2003. Debra Rosenberg, "The War over Fetal Rights," Newsweek, 9 June 2003. (Archived article; costs $2.95 to retrieve.) Amy Fagan, "Laci Peterson's mom urges law recognizing unborn in attacks," Washington Times, 3 July 2003. Charles A. Donovan, "Good Things to Life," BreakPoint Online, 15 April 2003. Peter Kreeft, Three Approaches to Abortion (Ignatius, 2002).


Chuck Colson



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