But the law treated the murder of Tracy Marciniak's baby differently. Five days before her son was due, her husband viciously attacked her: "He held me against a couch by my hair. He knew that I very much wanted my son. He punched me very hard twice in the abdomen. Then he refused to call for help, and prevented me from calling," Tracy testified before Congress.
She almost died; her child, Zachariah, was dead. Blunt-trauma injuries, the doctors said. Yet at the time, Wisconsin law did not recognize that anyone was killed that night. A man got away with murder.
In her testimony last year, Tracy said: "Mr. Chairman, I ask you and the other members of the committee to look at this photograph and ask yourselves: Does it show one victim, or two?"
One victim or two? You can judge for yourself by going to the National Right to Life Committee Web site and viewing the photo of Tracy holding her son for the last time. (www.nrlc.org/Unborn_victims/index.html)
"I carried Zachariah in my womb for almost nine full months," said Tracy. "He was killed in my womb, only five days from his delivery date. The first time I ever held him in my arms, he was already dead. This photo shows the second time I held him, which was the last time. There is no way that I can really tell you about the pain I feel when I visit my son's gravesite in Milwaukee, and at other times, thinking of all that we missed together. But that pain was greater because the man who killed Zachariah got away with murder."
Last week, by a vote of 61-to-38, the Senate passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, also known as "Laci and Conner's Law," which makes the death or injury to a "child in utero" a federal crime when it is committed in the course of another violent federal crime. President Bush immediately applauded: "Pregnant women who have been harmed by violence, and their families, know that there are two victims -- the mother and the unborn child -- and both victims should be protected by federal law. I look forward to signing this important legislation into law."
Abortion, medical treatment, and the acts of the woman herself are specifically exempted. But some people can't get abortion politics out of their heads.
Sharon Rocha, Laci Peterson's mother and Conner Peterson's grandmother, wrote in 2003: "What I find difficult to understand is why groups and senators who champion the pro-choice cause are blind to the fact that these two-victim crimes are the ultimate violation of choice." In a Feb. 26 statement rejecting a substitute bill proposed by Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., Rocha said: "Laci knew that Conner was her son, and I know it too. Two people, Laci and Conner, would be here with us today if they had not been murdered. There were two victims in this crime, not one."
Last week, only 38 senators voted against Laci and Conner's law. Sen. John Kerry was one of them. In a letter to constituents, Sen. Kerry expressed concern that, even though abortion is specifically exempted, recognizing two victims might somehow undermine Roe v. Wade.
Was it a profile in courage? Maybe you think so.
But isn't there something profoundly unattractive about a man who can see a pregnant woman brutally attacked and worry about abortion politics? That's a cold man. Cold, ideological, mechanical, mean.
Did the real John Kerry just stand up?