The Guardian May 21, 2003


A ploy against women

It's almost unimaginable that anyone would manipulate the tragic death 
of Laci Peterson to promote a reactionary agenda. But the White House and 
members of Congress are trying to do just that.

Peterson, nie Rocha, was eight months pregnant when she disappeared last 
December. Police found her body in early April in the San Francisco Bay. 
Her foetus was located a mile away  still attached to the umbilical cord. 
The discovery evoked horror and rage in the hearts of women and all who 
stand up strong against misogynist violence in any form. Police arrested 
her husband as a suspect in her apparent murder.

Now the Bush administration and foes of abortion on Capitol Hill are trying 
to redirect the anger and revulsion at Laci Peterson's tragic death into 
support for a bill that would make a foetus a separate person from the 
woman carrying it to term. California state prosecutors have announced 
their intention to charge Scott Peterson with double homicide of two people 
and seek the death penalty.

In an April 25 White House media conference, spokesperson Ari Fleischer 
pressed Congress to pass the "Unborn Victims of Violence Act," which 
establishes penalties for harming a foetus in the course of a federal 
crime.

The bill, already introduced in the Senate, is soon to come before the 
House.

This bill, and the charge of double homicide, are attempts to define a 
foetus as a person protected under the 14th Amendment, which bans any state 
from depriving "any person of life, liberty or property without due process 
of law."

This lays the basis for outlawing abortions and criminalising as murderers 
those who perform them or receive them.

Women's groups are outraged. Even Democrat Representative Jerrold Nadler, 
warns that this congressional move "has nothing to do with domestic 
violence or the severity of the crime. What they want to do under the guise 
of domestic violence is lay the groundwork for abolishing abortion rights. 
That is violence against women."

>From their own bourgeois vantage point, if the White House or Capitol Hill 
had real compassion about Laci Peterson's life, they would beef up laws 
against harming pregnant women. But real support for women's lives, and 
remedies for violence against women, take a grass-roots struggle.

Violence against women is endemic in a capitalist society that promotes 
ideological justification for the inequality of women. Real support for 
women would begin with funding for battered women's shelters and couples 
counselling, access to decent jobs and education, affordable day care, and 
drug and alcohol programs.

And first and foremost, each woman needs control of her own body  to have 
the most profound and basic right to decide when and if to have children.

Using the terrible death of Laci Peterson to lay the basis for the 
abolition and criminalising of abortion is an additional act of violence  
an egregious crime against women.

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Workers' World

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