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Abstract

When the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVVA) was signed into law on April 1, 2004, the federal government dishonored nothing less pedigreed than its founding philosophy. The UVVA criminalizes harm to the fetus and sanctions such harm with the punishment that would have befallen the accused had the women carrying the fetus been the one to sustain the injuries instead. This Article argues that recent efforts at fetal protection, like the UVVA, defy and defile liberalism, the political theory underpinning this nation's constitution, and thereby conduce to the subordination of women. Liberalism makes central commitments to neutrality and equality, both of which serve liberalism's most fundamental liberty - the liberty of citizens to pursue their life plans and construct their value systems. To secure this liberty, neutrality mandates a government that forebears from favoring some life plans over others, or from adopting or acting upon values not shared by all. This commitment to governmental restraint finds support in the Constitution, for example, in the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Equality requires that all citizens receive equal treatment before the law. This principle is embodied most transparently in the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause.

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