To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Chris Curran’s “When Pro Is Con” which appeared on May 3rd in The Dartmouth. Curran discusses the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) and the “common sense” nature of such legislation. First of all, I think we would all be thrilled if the entire abortion debate could be boiled down to “common sense.” But clearly there is no general consensus, and hence “common sense” is hardly a useful phrase when discussing some of the current threats to a woman’s right to choose. In particular, the UVVA may initially sound like a wonderful way to help protect pregnant woman from domestic or other violence. However, the act itself has nothing to do with the protection of the women involved. This act speaks only of the “unborn victim,” giving the fetus (in fact, even the embryo or zygote) status as a person and separating it completely from the woman carrying it. This act protects the fetus, but not the woman. It should also be recognized that pro-choice organizations are not the only groups which oppose the UVVA. In fact, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence does not support it.
While I am adamantly opposed to the UVVA, I strongly support a bill that will address harm to pregnant women. The Motherhood Protection Act, which is supported by numerous pro-choice organizations and individuals, would create a separate federal criminal offense for injury to a pregnant woman. However, unlike UVVA, this act would recognize the woman as being the primary victim and would not recognize the fetus as being an individual separate from the woman. Unfortunately, this act was not passed when it was first proposed two years ago, as it was opposed by anti-choice lawmakers.
Finally, I would like to comment on the author’s misuse of the term “pro-choice.” Curran speaks of pro-choice groups as people who believe that an unborn child should be of no value to its mother. Clearly, this assertion is utterly absurd. Much of this article attempts to assert the opinions of pro-choice individuals and organizations. However, it seems that the author does not identify as such and furthermore, has not done sufficient research regarding the position of such organizations regarding the issues at hand.