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.
* * *Workers' World