Federal crime to injure or kill a fetus during an attack on the mother?

House Republicans, ordinarily strong supporters of states’ rights, are working on a bill that would blatantly intrude on the traditional police powers of the individual states. According the the Washington Post:

I am, constitutionally speaking, outraged. Would somebody please explain to me where the federal interest is in this? Or just explain to me how it is that these states’ rights guys aren’t engaged in some amazing hypocrisy?

minty you seem to be laboring under a common delusion. That any politician needs to be (or will be) internally consistant with the policies of their party.

Dems are not always pro-fed vs. state, Reps are not always pro-state vs. fed (didn’t the bruhaha in Florida teach us that?)

and, as we see continually, if the issue is a fetus, a certain faction of the Republican party will ignore absolutely everything else in favor of heading towards the point where abortions are again against the law of the land.

Perhaps what we should do is subject the fetus to income tax deductions. After all, since I’m able to deduct my already born child as a deduction, what about those couple of thousand ‘potential children’ in my ovaries?

I admit that was my first thought as well but read further into the article and find this:

“Under the bill, any perpetrator of a federal crime of violence against a pregnant woman could be charged separately for injuring or killing her fetus at any stage of development, even if the attacker was unaware of the pregnancy.”

In other words it doesn’t seem to be a significant expansion of federal jurisdiction as it applies only to existing federal crimes of violence. There are of course lots of other reasons not to like this law not the least of which is that it is another example of republican use of dishonesty to advance their agendas.

Dang it, Ned, did you really have to point out that I’m a total dumbass? :wink: Serves me right for reading a news story at work, I guess.

Oh well, if anybody’s still interested in the broad topic, I suppose we could discuss the same thing with regard to the attempted federal ban on “partial-birth” abortions. I have as hard a time seeing the federal interest there as I did with the idea of federalizing assault on a fetus.

“Under the bill, any perpetrator of a federal crime of violence against a pregnant woman could be charged separately for injuring or killing her fetus at any stage of development, even if the attacker was unaware of the pregnancy.”

What??? and folks get all bent over hate crime legislation ("how, oh, how can you legislate thought) Now, we expect that every person is able to ascertain pregnancy in any female?? (yea, yea, yea, assaulting anyone’s not a good idea) -hell, I’ve always suggested to men to never ask if a woman’s pregnant.

IIRC, in New York, (for example), they have legislation making the killing of a police officer 1st degree homicide, but one of the important factors is that the perpetrator had to know the person was an officer.


Well if you’re assaulting a woman, you should just assume that she’s pregnant. I mean, that’s what women are for, right? :rolleyes:

men who incorrectly assume a woman is pregnant are subject to assault.

Minty, it was a poorly written article in that respect and your wit more than makes up for an understandable error.

As for not knowing the police example is not the best. It is not uncommon to hold one responsible for the unltimate results of a criminal action though they were not intended or even reasonably forseeable. As the law makers are viewing the fetus as a seperate person it fits well within the existing framework of criminal law that harm to unintended victims is equally subject to punishment.

The real problem to me is the disingenuous rational which is to chip away at long standing legal views of the fetus as part of the mother rather than adressing any particular need to protect pregnant women.

Aw shucks, Ned. :o I think you’re just a better reader than I am today.

It’s been a long time since I took criminal law, but I do remember a general principle (“transfered intent”?) that if you intend to assault one person and end up hurting someone else in addition, you can be convicted of two assaults. For instance, assume I take my Red Rider BB gun up to D.C. and shoot Dick Armey square in the forehead, but the BB then bounces off Armey’s thick skull and pops John Ashcroft on the cheek. Even though I only intended to nail the guy with the porn star name, I’m busted for two separate counts of assault with a seriously underpowered weapon.

Of course, that rationale only applies if the fetus is considered a separate person–which is exactly what the sponsors of the bill are trying to do.

I thought there were already cases where someone was charged with additional assaults if they happened to cause someone to miscarry?

minty green wrote:

Must be Interstate Commerce, obviously. :rolleyes:

We’ve looked at some of the drafts of this stuff, and one of my co-workers feels pretty confident that it lays the groundwork for Fed involvement in any violent crime against women in states that refuse to fall in line with the proposed doctrine.

The pre-natal theory, so to speak, (and this is only hours old) is this: a woman is beaten or attacked, and injured. In states with similar laws, local authorities feel compelled to establish whether the victim is pregnant or not. If so, the Feds jump in.

But… if it’s not a crime in that state, locals might feel compelled to ask Federal authorities to establish whether or not the victim is pregnant, since supremacy requires that such questions be asked. Therefore, states that do not enact similar laws risk having constant Federal involvement at the most basic levels of law enforcement. States just love that.

Nice carrot and stick, eh? Not to mention that every woman who is ever injured in a fight will be asked the highly personal question, “are you pregnant?”

Ladies, in a mere nineteen months, I suggest you skip your appointment with the gynecologist and proceed directly to the surgeon, located at your local voting booth. Have that pesky Republican removed from your innards, before he, and it is a “he,” crawls deeper.

Thanks for the info, Sofa King. You don’t happen to have a link to any of the proposed bills, do you?

Nope, far as I know, it’s only in draft form. Sometimes THOMAS works overtime, though, so I’ll take a look, and you should, too.

Suggested keywords to search might be “fetus,” “violence AND women,” and ““violence against women.””

I’m not clever enough to figure out how to directly link the pages, but you can also search for this:

S. 76 “To make it a violation of a right secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States to perform an abortion with the knowledge that the abortion is being performed solely because of the gender of the fetus.” Introduced by our pal Jesse Helms; “placed on the calendar,” which basically means “I’ll write it when I can figure out how to make it legal.”

They’re swooping in, the bastards. Faster than anyone I knew thought the would. Be angry, be scared, be triumphant, but be aware.

“faster than anyone would have thought?” well, I don’t have time to look it up, but there was a thread here wherein we could predict what we thought Bush would do quickly, I believe that I was on record with abortion issues, and the tax cut but that it’d be modified so. So far 2 for 2. Will have to look that sucker up, since I’m going to need a second job, and fortune telling pays well. :smiley:

Ahhh…one place men have the advantage! Let’s see…5 billion sperm (give or take) times the $1500 tax credit…what guy couldn’t use 7.5 trillion dollars from the national government!!! :wink:
I have to agree with the sentiment that federalization of crimes in this fashion is quite a frightening prospect. I’m no fan of criminals, and I’d love to see these bastards who pick on women suffer in the pits of hell (figure of speech), but not at the cost of rights (yes, even criminals have them)

[hijack?] I also think that this is an excellent example of why I don’t vote Republican anymore than I do Democrat, and why I’m frustrated with Libertarians who fall for hollow Republican promises of government reform…as they say, fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me. [/hijack?]

I just can’t wait to see what convoluted stretch of the Interstate Commerce Clause they use to justify this one!!!

States’ rights aren’t at issue since we’re talking about Federal crimes only.


How is it dishonest? Those proposing it clearly favor the issue of fetal rights. Surely one who supports the right to choose would consider it a bad thing if an attacker forced an abortion, or killed a fetus by assaulting the mother. The right to choose would apply both ways, wouldn’t it? Forcing an abortion or injuring a fetus of a woman who has chosen to carry it to term seems to be at least as bad as not allowing her an abortion, no?

I’m glad that’s not the “least reason” to oppose this. Hopefully that means you have something better.


And this bothers you? Suppose I lock the doors and set a school on fire. Let’s say there’s 50 kids in there, but I never bothered to check before I burnt it to the ground. I guess what you’re saying is since I didn’t know that there were kids in there, I really can’t be held responsible for murder, can I? What half-assed logic is this? This is nothing unusual. All of our laws work this way. If you commit a violent crime, your responsible for any inadvertent damage or injury that occurs. WHy would you expect this to be different?

Minty Green:

Oh sure, this is really a secret way for Republicans to demean women. Give me a break. This bullshit is old and offensive. Make a responsible argument for chrissake.

Or if a women’s right to choose has been compromised in addition to an assault. I think it’s pretty safe to say that a women who’s 8 months pregnant and is assaulted, thereby losing her pregnancy, is going to mourn for the death of her much loved unborn child, and not simply an abstract lump of flesh. Are you going to tell her a person hasn’t been killed?

Sofa King:

Only hours old? Perhaps you should abort it. That’s a pretty serious twist, since we’re only talking about Federal crimes to begin with. Pretend it does work that way. Good. Punch a pregnant woman in the stomach, and the locals are unwilling to do anything, the Federals should step in. That’s also a normal part of the checks and balances and nothing particularly unusual.

Frankly, I have no problem with any law which prosecute men who hurt women. Pile 'em on! As far as I’m concerned, whoever hurts a woman hard enough to make her miscarry should spend the following 20 years in jail. Why should I care about the letter of the law that put him there?

Besides, a woman’s right to her body includes both the right to have an abortion and the right to carry a baby to term. I’m willing to support both those rights.

End of hijack. Carry on with your examination of subtext.

Scylla, you’ve entirely missed my point. It’s not that I’m opposed to assault-on-a-fetus laws. It’s that the federal government has no business intruding on the states’ long-established authority over local crimes. Notice how I backed off the original complaint when Ned came up with the federal-crimes-only evidence?


Well jeez, as a matter of law, it quite definitely ain’t an independent person. Little thing called Roe v. Wade. Please also note that what you’re complaining about here is a comment on transferred intent, not assault-on-fetus laws.

I’m pro-choice. And I’m against federal intrusion in local law enforcement. These are separate issues for purposes of this thread.

Yes, some states have already enacted similar laws.

I agree that only a fool could miss the real motivation behind the proposed law. this doesn’t mean it isn’t game playing. The law has nothing to do with what, on its face, it is intended for. It doesn’t seek to protect fetuses from violent crimes, it seeks to establish a legal principal protecting fetuses from Roe v. Wade. I agree this isn’t as obvious as in the law banning execution of pregnant women but its still game playing.