Last week, I opened my phone to see a political activist take to the Star Tribune Opinion page to attack a colleague and me with heated and hateful rhetorical flourishes because we had taken a stand against proposed legislation that strips away the rights of unborn children up until birth ("Senators pushing misinformation," Feb. 20).

This activist took my position out of context, applied heated and false allegations to my motives, and never once directly addressed the specific concerns I have with the legislation in question.

To start with the facts, to quote from the bill language: "A fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent rights under the laws of this state."

Sen. Michelle Benson and I reject the idea that all unborn babies should be stripped of their individual human rights and be permitted to be aborted at any moment before birth. This language opens the door to abortions during late pregnancy and devalues the life of a growing baby within the mother's womb.

This is personal to me. I have a young son and am pregnant with twins. I've had the joys of seeing their hearts beat while they suck on their thumbs on an ultrasound screen, and am praying daily for their continued growth as we get closer to the point in pregnancy where doctors have confidence an early delivery will be healthy.

Their lives are a gift. I simply cannot fathom someone telling me the lives of my boys are undeserving of protection under the law.

My early work at the Legislature has stood by my commitment to valuing life at every stage. Minnesota law has long recognized that when a woman is the victim of a violent crime and her unborn baby loses his or her life, the perpetrator is criminally liable. However, an inadvertent loophole in Minnesota's statute potentially reduces the penalty for killing the unborn child. It pains my heart to think of a young pregnant mother who is violently beaten by an ex-boyfriend to the point where her pregnancy results in a miscarriage or stillbirth.

This is why I am helping author a bill to close this loophole so a young pregnant mother can get justice for losing her child. The bill passed its first committee without opposition and would create a first-degree felony murder penalty for violently killing an unborn child, which is identical to how the parallel crime of first-degree murder is treated.

If instead we were to pass a law that says unborn babies have no independent rights, what justice would their families receive after such a devastating crime?

These babies may not breathe air the same as a newborn, but their lives have every bit of the value and inspire the same love as a newborn.

Last week's author disagrees with us that all human life should be valued equally, and she is entitled to that view. She is not justified to call those with whom she disagrees vile names while proclaiming to be above inciteful rhetoric. It's ridiculous on its face, and I'm not going to stand idly by and have my motivation and passion toward valuing all life, especially the most vulnerable and deserving of our protection, cast in such a light.

I am proud to stand firmly with millions of Minnesotans in support of the lives of the unborn and will absolutely oppose any legislation that diminishes their standing under the law.

Julia Coleman, R-Chanhassen, is a member of the Minnesota Senate. This article was also submitted on behalf of Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake.