EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a response from Congresswoman Lois Capps to the May 8 Daily Nexus staff editorial entitled “Unborn Rights,” which stated “Lois Capps, our local representative in Washington, who is a pro-choice advocate, abstained during the House vote when she should have voted no.”

Editor, Daily Nexus:

Thank you for contacting my office to express your opposition to HR 503, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. I appreciate hearing from you about this important matter.

Due to the passing of a close friend, I was unable to be in Washington for this vote, but before the bill reached the floor of the House, I knew that the margin was too wide for my vote to affect the outcome. I submitted an explanation in the Congressional Record to record both my opposition to HR 503 and my support for the alternative, the Motherhood Protection Act. My position and passion on this issue is a matter of record. In the last Congress, I voted against a bill that was identical to HR 503.

As you may know, HR 503 would change existing federal law to create a separate offense for an assault that causes harm or death to an “unborn child” in utero, which, as the bill defines it, may include a two-cell fertilized egg. Unfortunately, the bill conveys a new legal protection on the “unborn child” without addressing the crime against the expectant mother.

We are in complete agreement on this issue. I strongly opposed HR 503 and supported the Motherhood Protection Act, which recognized the pregnant woman as the primary victim of an assault that causes the termination of her pregnancy. It would create a separate federal offense for such a crime and increases the penalty for her assailant.

I believe that every woman, in consultation with her family physician and her conscience, has the right to reproductive choice without government interference. Our policy objective should be to make abortion less necessary and more rare, not more difficult, dangerous and intimidating to women. To this end I have been a strong supporter of reproductive choice, as well as domestic and international family planning programs.

Unfortunately, HR 503 passed in the House by a vote of 252-172. You can be assured, though, that I will continue to support family planning programs because they have a long record of success in preventing unwanted pregnancies, reducing the number of abortions, and improving women’s health. I will continue to support a broad range of women’s health programs, including complete reproductive freedom.

Again, thank you for contacting my office. Please keep in touch.