Should People Who Oppose Abortion also Oppose “Personhood” Measures?


This
week, Colorado and Montana Right to Life groups and Personhood USA
announced they will submit new initiatives to get “Personhood” laws on
the ballot in 2010. These laws would recognize the “unborn,” from the
moment of fertilization, as full persons under state constitutional
law. Based on a variety of cases in which claims of fetal rights have
been used to justify deprivation of pregnant women’s fundamental rights
to life and liberty it is clear that these measures will have a
significant impact on all pregnant women including those who have no
intention of ending a pregnancy.


The following video by National Advocates for Pregnant Women
documents the experiences of such women – including women who are
profoundly opposed to abortion. Fortunately, these horrific cases do
not represent controlling legal precedent.  Some of them were
overturned on appeal. Those cases that survived did so only as
exceptional outliers, in part, because the “unborn” are not treated as
separate legal persons under the law.

While people opposed to abortion may hope that establishing
separate rights for the “unborn” will have a limited and targeted
impact only on the right to abortion, here’s a small
sample of the many cases in which fetal rights/personhood arguments
have been used to police and punish women going to term.


According to Personhood USA, legislators in at least five states are sponsoring bills that would give the unborn full state constitutional rights from the moment of fertilization.
In North Dakota, such a bill has already passed in the House.
What Personhood USA and the legislators supporting these bills arent telling you is that these bills, if enacted, could hurt all pregnant women.

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  • marysia

    Lynn,
    I am prolife but share your concerns about the notions of fetal personhood that are usually put forward in the abortion debate. Unborn children are not simply floating around in the air somewhere, and pregnant women should not be treated as if they do not take the tandem interests and lives of themselves and their children seriously and thoughtfully.

    In US dominant culture at least, the word “person” means an isolated entity, inherently at odds with others That idea of personhood does not work at all for pregnancy!

    Nonviolent Choice Directory, http://www.nonviolentchoice.blogspot.com

  • crowepps

    Considering the increasing volume of research showing that genetic abnormalities can be caused by defective SPERM, created because men drink, take prescriptionsm, use illegal drugs, eat bad diets, cook themselves in hot tubs, wear tight underwear/jeans, etc., it’s not too much of a stretch to see the day coming when ALL people of reproductive age are required to live strictly regulated lives to give their POTENTIAL offspring the best possible chance.

    If it seems a little bizarre to think that an oppressive dictatorship is necessary to ‘save society’, we certainly have tons of examples from the past of philosophers shrugging off the fact that they are making the people who are already alive miserable in pursuit of their speculative ideal future.

  • invalid-0

    Pie in the sky, Crowepps…no way the boys will be subject to any restrictions. Anti-choicers will never demand of men what they demand of women because the entire movement would implode.

    • invalid-0

      “…will never demand of men what they demand of women …” So the anti-abortion movement is about hatred of women, huh. Every time you ladies don’t get what you want or even just get challenged you pull this red herring out. Why not stick to some real arguments?

  • invalid-0

    Personhood laws should NOT deprive the mother of her choice of delivery method. They are intended to recognize the right of the fetus (or zygote, embryo, blastocyst) to be born. The examples given represent serious misapplication of the law, in my opinion, and the law should be corrected to prevent such occurrences. A pregnant women must retain rights over her own body.

    • invalid-0

      And those rights include the right to abortion.

  • crowepps

    At this point, we don’t even a good track record of collecting child support from the non-custodial parent or insisting that the child be provided their right to visitation reliably.

     

    I surely do wish that at least a tithe of all this concern about the fetus could be transferred to the children that are already born!

  • alison-cole

    Yes, Jim, pregnant women must retain rights over our own bodies. Unfortunately, if an outside authority can trump the pregnant woman’s rights by recognizing the embryo’s right to be born in spite of a woman’s wish to terminate a pregnancy, the outside authority can also regulate the manner of birth against the pregnant woman’s will if they believe her choices are in conflict with the fetus’ rights. Furthermore, the right of the zygote and embryo to be born is certainly debatable, as at least 1/5 of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and we would need to track down a lot of uteri to hold the many superfluous zygotes created by infertility treatments like IVF.

    Trust that women are the best decision makers about pregnancy, birth and their own physical, emotional, social and spiritual health.

  • invalid-0

    If properly written, the law can quarantee the mother’s right to choose method of delivery. This conflict can be avoided.

  • invalid-0

    The law isn’t simply about choosing a method of delivery. Proper application of informed consent can take care of that, a hospital determining your method of care and enforcing it through the courts is an improper application.

    A fetal personhood law itself is facially unconstutional as it amounts to slavery. What happens when the rights of the mother and fetus conflict? Do women get to sue? How do we set that up? Special pregnancy courts? Better yet, how do we extend legal protection to fertilized eggs/blastocysts/zygotes before we know about them? Eggs may be fertilized but until implantation its not a pregnancy. So how do we monitor all women of childbearing age every month to make sure they don’t have any fertilized eggs? And what do we do about miscarriages? Do fetuses get to sue their mothers? What about twins, sometimes one is bigger or healthier than the other. Can they sue each other?

    I developed toxemia during my pregnancy which has had some lasting health effects. Would I be allowed to sue the fetus for impairing my health? Do I get punitive damages? I almost hope some state passes one of these bills so we can see the utter insanity that would ensue.

  • invalid-0

    Currently, the unborn are treated as the property of the mother, just as African slaves were the property of their owners until about 140 years ago. Declaring the unborn a person would just give them a seat at the table for the abortion decision. Courts weigh the rights of individuals all the time (smoking laws, yelling fire in a crowded theater, it goes on and on). This would be nothing new. The questions you pose are ridiculous. Can the smaller twin sue the larger twin? What? What kind of woman is self-centered enough to wonder if she should be able to sue her own child for a difficult pregnancy?

  • invalid-0

    Yes, Lynn, we should oppose these laws.

    To Anonymous: the slavery analogy is absurd. We are talking about balancing rights due to a physical relationship between the woman and fetus. The very real impact on the woman’s body, health, and life counts for something, at least to some of us.

    Fetal personhood laws do hurt women. I invite people to really look into this, beyond this video. What you learn may be surprising.

    I am thankful that my own faith community (an Orthodox one) highly values fetal life and limits abortion; yet, it still recognizes the inherent problems with religious or legal personhood for the fetus. That is a correct balance.

  • invalid-0

    Hey Anon 10:35 am — You refer to matters that are “ridiculous.” But I’m having a hard time picturing this:

    Declaring the unborn a person would just give them a seat at the table for the abortion decision.

    Huh? I didn’t know the “unborn” could “sit.” And “at a table”? Wow. Science has really progressed.

  • invalid-0

    I know comparing slaves to the unborn is uncomfortable for you. It’s not absurd at all. Legally, the unborn ARE treated as property (my body, my baby), just as the slaves were under Dred Scott. This is undeniable. “The very real impact on the woman’s body, health, and life counts for something…” Of course it does. I didn’t indicate otherwise. There is currently NO legal balance whatsoever.

    • crowepps

      It doesn’t seem like a stretch to me, but then CHILDREN are also treated as property, aren’t they?  Their parents are given the power to determine where they live, with whom they associate, what religion they practice, where they go to school, what they wear, what they eat, and whether they receive medical, dental or optometric care.  The parents can even take money children earn themselves away and refuse to let the child spend it. Their parents can drag them along to live in communes, force them to undergo bizarre ceremonies where they are ‘cleansed of demons’, compel the children to convert religions repetitively right along with the parents, commit them to mental hospitals or enroll them in harsh military schools.  In some states their parents can even force them to remain pregnant when they don’t want to be.

       

      And of course, until quite recently, women were treated exactly the same way by their husbands.

  • invalid-0

    Yes, courts weigh the rights of actual individuals, not potential ones. This would be new as the proposition is to give rights to a non-sentient potential person that by its nature can and will override the rights of an actual person. The questions I pose are ridiculous, that is the point, the utter absurdity of affording a potential person rights before it becomes an actual person. All those things would be possible under a fetal personhood law. And under such a law, abortion would more than likely be illegal. So if this law is in effect, and if I became pregnant and my health was adversely affected or worse, I die, I have the right to sue since the “person” causing me harm would be the fetus, who has injured me. In fact, my entire family could sue the fetus as I would be unable to meet the other actual obligations and duties I have now which would also adversely affect them. See the more you talk this out, the more asinine it becomes.

  • invalid-0

    In spite of this “total lack of balance” the vast majority of healthy pregnancies are carried to term. Weird. By the way, the supreme court has already balanced in Roe vs. Wade by allowing restrictions on late term abortions. Sensibly, they looked at viability outside the uterus (which changes with progress in medicine) as the time at which any fetal rights should begin.

  • invalid-0

    “And under such a law, abortion would more than likely be illegal.” No it wouldn’t. That’s not balance. “…I have the right to sue since the “person” causing me harm would be the fetus, who has injured me…” There you go again.

  • invalid-0

    Here is a completely objective discussion of personhood in legal terms. Not very encouraging for us pro-lifers.

    http://www.aul.org/personhood

  • invalid-0

    This comparison is completely irrational. The slave was a PERSON, someone born free, living a full life as a human being. Some racist nutjob came and decided to take away his/hers human rights and downgrade those PERSONS to the level of working beasts and farm animals.
    I absolutely hate it when you compare a blastocyst to a breathing, living, laughing, thinking, intelligent human being. I just HATE it.

  • invalid-0

    Fetuses as Persons Laws, GLBT Laws, Propositions, Ballot Propositions, Ballot Propositions and the like are all mistakes. Laws are meant to be made by lawmakers and lawmakers only. Republican – Democracy works. Ballot Propositions and Ballot Initiatives are a mistake. When the people make the laws, they become vigilantes taking the law into their own hands. It is dangerous and results in anarchy with no winners and only losers. Only Lawmakers should make and repeal laws, not the people. Equality, Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity can all be lost, and Discrimination becomes legalized when individuals make their own laws and demand they be enforced. Ballot Propositions and Initiatives are illegal and inherently unConstitutional. The Constitution calls for the elected representatives to make the laws, not the people directly. This was a wise move on the part of our Founding Fathers who feared this kind of mob rule.

  • invalid-0

    I’m making a rational argument here that both the African slaves under Dred Scott and the unborn (excepting late-term) were/are (respectively) treated under the law as property. This is undeniable. You can hate it if you want, but it’s TRUE! I didn’t make up the saying “my body, my baby”. That’s a statement of ownership of property. And BTW, a blastocyst grows not into a dandelion, or a perch, or a poodle, but a breathing, living, laughing, thinking, intelligent human being.

  • invalid-0

    The real subject in the Pro-Life versus Pro-Choice debate is can be summarized in one word: CONTROL. Some men want to control women. Some women want to control other women. People want to control each other. They feel that if they spread the word that they can save others even if it kills or harms others. They feel that they must spread their version and their brand of morality until everyone adopts it as their own. How many people they must hurt or how many lives they must destroy in the process of forcing everyone over to their way of thinking, believing, and living is all justified. The result is the moral and ethical degradation of humanity and the subjugation of human beings and humanity by religious zealots. This does not excuse their actions; it only explains it. This is why the most dangerous people in the world call themselves true believers. It is really a perversion of morality. Morality is irrational as is belief in that you cannot understand or prove. Ethics needs to replace morality. In ethics, unlike morality, rights and wrongs can be understood by all in terms that all can understand. In morality their are gaps in understanding, some of which are rather huge. Ethics understands and indicates that the control of others and the attempted control of others is unethical and therefore wrong.

  • invalid-0

    I know the pro-choice side wants to couch the debate this way. We’re a bunch of control freaks! But, like it or not, believe it or not, we just think the unborn are more important and deserve more protections than current law provides. Your “ethics” apparently gives no or little worth to the unborn. How is that not a moral judgement? How is that humane?

  • invalid-0

    My way gives equal value to all life. Each person must make her own choice, her own way. Each person must weigh her options and must live with her own decision. No one has the right to impose their values on others no matter how worthy those values are; to do other is unethical and immoral. It would be just as wrong for me to force you to get an abortion. Each woman should have the right to choose what happens or does not happen to her body. It is her choice and she must live with her choice. If you do not believe abortion is right; then don’t have one. Encourage your friends and family to choose another option. I support you in that; but the second you try to interfere legally or illegally in someone else’s decision, YOU have become a tyrant, an overbearing monster and rough hewn beast.

  • invalid-0

    Your ethics do the same to pregnant women. The degree of this varies, but it is the result. I understand the desire to ‘protect’ the unborn, but I rarely hear any pro-life arguments that include the woman aside from ‘She shouldn’t have had sex!’. Frankly, considering the evidence saying that banning abortion wouldn’t actually affect abortion rates, I would consider that quite inhumane.

    At any rate, the reason some of us don’t feel the rights of the fetus matter is that there is no ‘protection’ that you can extend to them that doesn’t infringe upon the rights of the woman. Personally, it’s not the intentions of the right-to-life movement that I disagree with, but the tactics and results. If you wanted to shut down IVF clinics, or something of the sort, then I would happily shut up and stay out of your way. But the effects of anti-abortion measures upon pregnant women are something that I simply cannot and will not support.

  • invalid-0

    I agree with you, at least I think you were supporting what I said, but many of the same people who claim to be “Pro-Life” are also against things like IVF, contraceptive devices, and birth control. They are not only against Stem Cell Research that could save lives and people from suffering, but they are also for abstinence only education and against sex education. They are for allowing non-medical workers and medical workers to refuse service to whoever they choose in direct contravention of oaths. Finally, these same people who seem to care so much about life that they are “Pro-Life” are pro-death penalty as well. They simply want to control the lives of others. But then what do I know, I’m just a guy who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s (the era of Equal Rights and the ERA). I wonder why that has not resurfaced now that Obama is President. It should.

  • invalid-0

    Dear Jimbo:

    This article is not objective, nor is it factual. It is a work showing an opinionated bias published by the Pro-Life )that’s anti-Choice) movement. The author of this article does not understand the writings and philosophies of John Lock, a Classical, Liberal Enlightenment Philosopher who if alive today would in all likelihood be Pro-Choice and would refute this article.

    • invalid-0

      Kurt, I did some research on John Locke, probably England’s most famous 17th century philosopher. He was a strong believer in natural law and declared that “no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions.” I believe Locke, today, would have championed the cause of the unborn, especially given the scientific knowledge that life exists from conception onward.

      • invalid-0

        Did John Locke say anything about abortion? e.g. regarding Common Law practices at the time?

      • invalid-0

        Life is continuous…scientists do not all agree that life begins at conception (it exists prior to conception). Many scientists don’t weigh in on the anti-abortion side of the debate.

  • invalid-0

    Yes, a woman has a right to consent to acts that affect her body. It is pretty straightforward. Otherwise, the result is women are seized, detained, transported against their will, shackled, or their bodies literally cut into by decree of the state. When properly considered, it is pregnant women who are being treated like property and as slaves.

    What I do not understand is why, if the concern is the baby, folks do not focus on addressing crucial issues faced by pregnant women? I know from personal and volunteer experience that women and children (born and unborn) benefit more from direct advocacy than from being treated as criminals or subjects of the state.

  • invalid-0

    but you surely don’t believe that I will agree that the mother has a right to kill her baby, do you?

  • invalid-0

    Kurt, point me to a biased or inaccurate comment in that article. I’ll bet that as soon as you saw that it was on a pro-life site that you made up your mind that it was biased. Make your case. In the meantime, I’ll look up John Lock. Fair enough?

  • invalid-0

    Who has proposed that laws be made by anyone other than lawmakers? We have a process for making laws.

  • invalid-0

    “My way gives equal value to all life.” Don’t exclude the unborn, Kurt.

  • invalid-0

    A blastocyst or fetus in early stages of development in the womb are not treated as property of a woman any more than her hands or legs are. They are a part of her body. Only when the fetus can survive independantly is it at all reasonable for the state to have any interest in balancing the interests of the fetus against the rights of the woman.

  • crowepps

    At the point where the law is written so that there are two ‘persons’ involved, and the medical staff involved face penalties, the conflict is inherent.

    The law cannot guarantee the mother ANY rights, not even the right to life, when the law makes it clear that the life of the unborn fetus is more important than her choices.  Laws which recognize the fetus as a ‘person’ automatically set up an adversarial relationship, where in any decision the woman’s choices are weighed in the PRESUMPTION that they will have a negative impact on the fetus.

    With the law set up so that there two patients INIMICABLE TO EACH OTHER, one patient cannot be allowed to make choices for the other, so the easy way out is to take ALL of the choices out of the woman’s hands and put those decisions into the hands of the theoretically ‘neutral third party’ like the doctor or hospital.

    Decisions made by a supposedly disinterested person, on the basis of statistics or ‘best medical practice’ is more easily defended legally than allowing the woman to make her own choices.  And if the doctor or hospital wish to insert into that care choices in line with their own personal religious beliefs or conscience, they certainly are allowed to do that.  THEIR right to do so is protected by law, but the woman’s is not.

  • crowepps

    "What kind of woman is self-centered enough to wonder if she should be able to sue her own child for a difficult pregnancy?"

     

    A woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant?  Once the fetus has been legally declared a separate ‘person’ with rights to health and welfare in opposition to those of the woman who is its unwilling host, I’m sure the insurance companies will jump right in to sell policies insuring the fetus against the costs of any damages caused by its tenancy.

     

    After all, what kind of fetus is self-centered enough to cause a difficult pregnancy and damage its mother’s health?  With those personal rights come personal responsibilities.

  • http://operationcounterstrike.blogspot.com invalid-0

    I would support personhood for the unborn, provided the law also specified that a woman’s choice to have an abortion shall be considered “due process of law”, sufficient to justify killing the unborn person.

    If something or someone is inside my body, then I’m entitled to have it killed, no matter what it is. Even if it’s a person. Even if it’s an INNOCENT person. If you were inside my body, I’d be entitled to kill you. If I were inside your body, you’d be entitled to kill me.

  • invalid-0

    Did he bother to condemn the practice?

  • invalid-0

    Abortion is already illegal. It is the taking of innocent life. It is murder. http://www.ignoreroe.com

  • invalid-0

    Abortion is already illegal.

    Please go tell that to all your “pro-life” friends, then, so they’ll stop protesting and being obnoxious to people who don’t share their screwed-up beliefs.

  • invalid-0

    I’m trying to tell both sides that it is already illegal. How could murder ever be legalized? What we need to do is just ignore Roe v. Wade and start prosecuting. Murder is the taking of innocent life. Therefore, abortion is murder.
    What if the Supreme Court decided that murdering YOU was “legal”? Then would you be so intent on following “the law”?
    I don’t think so. This is not about a woman’s rights or freedom. It’s about a human being getting cut to pieces in his/her mother’s womb. It’s about murder.
    http://www.ignoreroe.com

  • invalid-0

    Take it up with the 14th amendment.

    • invalid-0

      You mean the part about “due process of law”? Seems like the 14th amendment, read properly, supports my side, not yours. A baby in the womb is killed without due process. Read your Constitution! There is nothing in the 14th about abortion, or about privacy. Does anyone even know what the Constitution says anymore??????

  • invalid-0

    What we need to do is just ignore Roe v. Wade and start prosecuting.

    Here’s a nickel, kid. Go get yourself a real law degree.