The Laci Peterson Law

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WASHINGTON — President Bush on Thursday signed into law a bill that would make it a separate crime to kill or harm an unborn child during an assault on the mother. "As of today, the law of our nation will acknowledge the plain fact that crimes of violence against a pregnant woman often have two victims," Bush said before the signing of the measure. "The death of an innocent unborn child has too often been treated as a detail in one crime but not a crime in itself," the president said. The Unborn Victims of Violence Act (search) makes it a crime to harm a fetus during an assault on a pregnant woman. Bush signed the bill, which took five years to get through Congress, in an elaborate Rose Garden ceremony. • Raw Data: Unborn Victims of Violence Act (FindLaw)

The controversial measure, which gained new support following the 2002 murder of a pregnant Laci Peterson (search), is also called "Laci and Conner's law." The California woman was eight months pregnant with a son who was to be named Conner when she disappeared on Christmas Eve. Laci Peterson's husband, Scott Peterson (search), has been charged with murder. California is one of 29 states with fetus protection laws. "All who knew Laci Peterson have mourned two deaths and the law cannot look away and pretend there was just one," Bush said. Standing behind Bush in the East Room of the White House were a number of prominent lawmakers and people whose pregnant daughters had been slain. Bush focused on one family in particular: that of Laci Peterson. "All who knew Laci Peterson have mourned two deaths and the law cannot look away and pretend there is just one," Bush said. "They have laid to rest their daughter, Laci, a beautiful young woman who was joyfully awaiting the arrival of a new son ... This little soul never saw light but he is loved and he is remembered and his name is forever enjoined with that of his mother." The bill only applies during commission of federal crimes, such as a terrorist attack or...
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