Communications Department

Family of Laci and Conner Peterson Urge Approval by Congress of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act

May 7, 2003 | 2003 Press Releases

WASHINGTON (May 7, 2003) — The family of California murder victims Laci and Conner Peterson are urging congressional passage of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, saying the bill “is very close to our hearts.”

In a letter to the prime sponsors of the bill, Congresswoman Melissa Hart (R-Pa.) and Senator Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), the family requested that the bill be referred to as “Laci and Conner’s Law in their memory.” (The letter can be viewed at the NRLC website at

The letter, dated May 5, was released by the lawmakers at a Capitol Hill press conference this morning. It was signed by Laci Peterson’s mother, Sharon Rocha; by her husband, Ron Grantski; by her father; and by her two sisters and her brother.

They wrote, “As the family of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, this bill is very close to our hearts. We have not only lost our future with our daughter and sister, but with our grandson and nephew as well.”

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act would recognize an unborn child as a legal victim when he or she is injured during the commission of a federal crime of violence. The bill is strongly supported by President Bush. On April 25, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, “The President does believe that when an unborn child is injured or killed during the commission of a crime of violence, the law should recognize what most people immediately recognize, and that is that such a crime has two victims.” Fleischer said the President wants Congress to approve the Unborn Victims of Violence Act “this year.”

The bill has been approved by the House of Representatives twice (in 1999 and 2001), but it has been blocked in the Senate by strong opposition from NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and other pro-abortion groups — even though the bill explicitly excludes abortion, and even though 26 states already have unborn victims laws for state crimes, none of which have affected abortion.

“Pro-abortion groups like NARAL continue to heartlessly insist that crimes like the murders of Laci and Conner have only one victim,” commented NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson. “The pro-abortion advocacy groups have blocked enactment of unborn victims laws in many states. They have also blocked the federal unborn victims bill, insisting on a competing ‘one-victim’ proposal that in effect would tell a grieving, surviving mother that she didn’t really lose a baby — that nobody really died in the crime.”

Senate floor action on the bill has not yet been scheduled, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has placed the bill on a list of measures he would like the Senate to consider during the weeks immediately ahead. Senator DeWine today took procedural steps that make the bill eligible to be taken up directly by the full Senate, without further committee action.

An overwhelming majority of Americans reject the one-victim ideology in the context of violent crime. A national Fox News / Opinion Dynamics poll released April 25 found that 84% of registered voters agree that a double homicide charge is appropriate in the much-publicized Peterson murder case in California. Only 7% said that a one-victim charge would be appropriate.

State unborn victims laws have been upheld by numerous federal and state courts. In a 1989 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the most expansive such law, the Missouri Unborn Child law. National Journal reported (April 21, 2001) that Heather Boonstra, a senior public policy associate for the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute, acknowledged that the federal bill “would probably survive a court challenge.”

The NRLC website contains the most extensive collection of documents on the unborn victims issue available anywhere on the internet, at:

The website archive includes a state-by-state breakdown of unborn victims laws, a summary of numerous federal and state court decisions upholding these laws, and first-person and third-person accounts of unborn victim cases. It also includes a photograph, titled “One Victim, or Two?,” that figured prominently in the 2001 House debate over the bill, and that powerfully distills the entire debate over unborn victims.

NRLC’s Douglas Johnson, who has written extensively on the unborn victims issue and directed NRLC’s efforts on behalf of the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, is available for interviews or broadcast debates through 202-626-8820 or