The Post opposes the so-called fetal violence bill, which would make it a federal crime to injure or kill a fetus (excepting abortion) [editorial, Oct. 2]. The Post opposed the bill because the "law cannot hold, at once, that a fetus is fully human for the purpose of federal criminal law yet simultaneously subject to being aborted as a matter of legally enforceable maternal right."

Life in the womb, however, need not have the status of a person under the Constitution, or even be fully human, for the state to have an interest in protecting it.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court found that the state has a strong interest in protecting the life of the fetus, but that that interest must be balanced against a woman's right to privacy. The behavior the present bill targets implicates no right, constitutional or otherwise, that competes with the government's interest in protecting the fetus.

To the contrary, the government's interests and the interests of the mother, who in this instance desires to bring the baby to term, are in agreement. Thus, The Post's perception of the bill as a ruse, intended to gain ground in the abortion debate, is unfounded.

The editorial also posited that an offense against the fetus cannot be severed from the offense against the mother. The fallacy of this argument may be seen in the example of a man who batters a pregnant woman and, as a result, a child is born with cerebral palsy. Under The Post's analysis, the damage to the child must not be regarded as a crime separate from the damage to the mother because the damage to the child occurred before birth.

ROGER BANKS

Washington