Laci Peterson's Mom Urges Law Recognizing Unborn in Attacks

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 3, 2003 | Go to article overview

Laci Peterson's Mom Urges Law Recognizing Unborn in Attacks


Byline: Amy Fagan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sharon Rocha whose pregnant daughter, Laci Peterson, and unborn grandson Conner were slain is urging Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle to actively support legislation that would criminalize the killing or injuring of a fetus while committing certain federal offenses against a pregnant woman.

"When a criminal attacks a woman who carries an unborn child, he claims two victims," Mrs. Rocha wrote in a June 16 letter to Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.

Republicans have been pushing to bring the bill, named "Laci and Conner's law" at the family's request, to the Senate floor. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said he would like to do so this month.

"If you, as Democratic leader, were also to announce your support, I believe that the bill would quickly become law," Mrs. Rocha wrote to Mr. Daschle. "But without your support, the bill might be weighed down with controversial amendments on unrelated issues and other obstructionist tactics that could keep it from passing."

Mrs. Rocha confirmed in an e-mail that she sent the letter to Mr. Daschle.

Jay Carson, spokesman for Mr. Daschle, said his boss "believes that in crimes like this, there is more than one victim and the law should reflect that, as it already does in much of the country, including California and his home state of South Dakota."

Mr. Daschle, in a reply, wrote,"Like you, I believe Congress should take timely action to prevent these crimes and increase penalties for them." Mr. Daschle said he agrees with Mr. Frist that Congress should "consider this issue expeditiously."

Mr. Carson could not say definitively whether Mr. Daschle supports the legislation. Mr. Daschle was unreachable for comment at the time.

Prosecutors in California have charged Scott Peterson, 30, with separate counts of murder in the deaths of Mrs. Peterson, 27, and Conner, whose decomposing bodies were found in April in Richmond, Calif., on rocks above the high-tide marks of San Francisco Bay.

Under California law, intentionally killing a fetus is murder, with an exception for surgical abortions. About half the states have similar laws, but there is no equivalent in federal law, which recognizes a crime only against the pregnant woman. …

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