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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

 
"Personhood" gains steam

by digby

In case anyone wants to tell me again that we needn't worry about the right wing "moving the goal posts" and that once a group of people have secured a basic human right, there's no going back, take a look at this from Greg Sargent:
The issue isn’t being discussed at all by Washington prognosticators these days. But you can bet that some of the most hard fought Senate races this fall will feature big fights over “Personhood” measures, which have declared that full human rights begin at the moment of fertilization. 
A number of GOP Senate candidates are on record supporting Personhood in some form. Once primary season is over, and the Senate general elections get underway in earnest, you are likely to see Democrats attack Republicans over the issue — broadening the battle for female voters beyond issues such as pay equity to include an emotionally fraught cultural argument that Dems have used to their advantage in the past. 
This has already appeared in the Colorado Senate race, but it will likely become an issue in other races, too. In Colorado, the Republican candidate, GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, renounced his previous support for Personhood after entering the contest, admitting it would “restrict contraception,” but Dems seized on the reversal to argue that Gardner only supports protecting women’s health when politically necessary. 
Gardner co-sponsored the “Life at Conception Act,” which provides for Constitutional protection of the right to life of each “preborn human person,” defined as existing from the “moment of fertilization.” The Pro-Life Alliance describes this as a “Personhood” measure.
Other GOP Senate candidates are on record in similar fashion. Co-sponsors of the Life at Conception Act include Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep. Steve Daines of Montana, both expected general election candidates. Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, three leading GOP Senate candidates in North Carolina — Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon, and Mark Harris — all favor a “Personhood” constitutional amendment that would “grant legal protections to a fertilized human egg and possibly ban some forms of birth control.”
Read on.  There's more, a lot more. Enough to send chills down your spine.

Now I'm sure that Democrats feel they will prevail on this and it's likely that it will accrue to their benefit in many places in the upcoming election. But all these candidates and office holders taking this position means that this "personhood" atrocity is becoming a mainstream position among Republicans.

So what's the point of this latest in the incremental war against a woman's right to choose when she wants to reproduce?
The single most important goal for any personhood law is to restrict, if not make totally illegal, the right to access abortions. If the zygote is a legal person, then Roe v. Wade was found on false grounds and no longer applies. Also, the idea of "viability" as a test no longer applies. A zygote or fetus must therefore be protected from being killed, just like any other person is.

Following that, most forms of hormonal birth control can potentially be attacked. Birth control works in two ways. First, it regulates the body so an egg is normally not released. No egg, no baby. However, sometimes an egg is released, but the hormones make the uterus a hostile environment for the zygote, causing it to pass out of the body with the woman's next cycle. If you assume a "person" begins at conception, birth control would necessarily be harmful to that person. Murder, if you will. The Virgina and Oklahoma State Legislators which are pushing personhood bills, were asked by those in opposition to put a basic rider protecting a woman's right to access hormonal birth control. In both cases, they gave a resounding "no", despite claims that they are not trying to make birth control illegal.

Another serious issue that is being brought up by ob-gyn's in the states trying to pass personhood laws, is the effect this will have on risky pregnancies, specifically ectopic pregnancy, because there is not sufficient legal markers/legal language to define a pregnancy as a "healthy one", nor define the rights of the fetus if it cannot survive...

Less likely, but still possible ramifications can include drastic laws against smoking, drinking or drug use while pregnant. While most women who want to be pregnant limit or remove those from their lives during pregnancy, some women do not, and some women cannot. Especially if they do not want the child in the first place. Though likely a violation of their civil rights, women are already charged for child abuse if they use while pregnant; personhood laws only make that situation worse. One can imagine a woman addicted to drugs who is living on the streets. She cannot have an abortion, but any child she has will face extreme health problems if it survives to term. And our answer will be to put her in jail.

Any miscarriage can potentially be considered manslaughter or a murder, depending on what the woman did or did not do during her pregnancy.
I actually don't think those last are less likely. Since the point of all this is to control women, I have no doubt that any pregnant women would be subject to legal problems if busy bodies thinks she is failing to behave in what certain people believe is a properly maternal way.

This is not some hysterical fringe discussion anymore. It's going to be part of the Fall campaign. And win or lose, the anti-abortion zealots will have succeeded in making the unthinkable thinkable.

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