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A Modest Proposal: How About ‘Personhood’ For WOMEN??

March 22, 2012

This is not a personSince joining the US Senate in 2009, Al Franken hasn’t had much chance for comedy. This is no exception. Senator Franken (D-MN) is joined by fellow Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY) as targets for potential sponsorship of a Personhood Amendment to the US Constitution. (This one has a twist! Read on…)

In recent years, “personhood” has come to be known as a movement of right wing conservatives to define a fertilized egg, from the moment of conception, as a fully human person with an inalienable right to life with its rights and the state’s interest in protecting those rights trumping a woman’s.

These laws put women who miscarry in danger of arrest and criminal charges; they also ban most forms of birth control and fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization. As RH Reality Check’s Soraya Chemaly points out:

Personhood is how we’re dismantling equality by eroding women’s reproductive rights, passing rape sonogram legislation, taxing rape victims who seek abortions, and criminalizing basic health care. And although personhood bills are being defeated just their very introduction makes anything short of their passage seem like some kind of “gift” that women should be grateful for as opposed to the absurd assault on rights that they represent.

Hear, hear! As Chemaly says, these laws at the state level are being defeated, most notably in Mississippi. Still, like every zombie GOP idea, they keep coming back.  In fact, in this presidential campaign season, Mitt Romney is the only  GOP candidate to not sign the “Personhood Pledge” (not that this has come without criticism.) What are these other candidates pledging?

Presidential candidates, and those that support personhood, are pledging to do the following:

  1. Give the government the right to seize a woman’s body to protect a fetus
  2. Empower hospitals and doctors, with government support, to force a woman to bear a child and/or have a cesarean against her will
  3. Criminalize abortion (including all circumstances: rape, incest, life-threatening pregnancy, severe fetal deformity)
  4. Criminalize stillbirths in certain situations (who decides which?)

Ah, but that stuff will never happen, right? If even Mississippi won’t pass this draconian crap, who would? Unfortunately, the answer is the same kinds of national level politicians that could be induced to sign a pledge like that above.  But voters would never elect anyone like that, surely? I wouldn’t be so sure. It is exactly times like these (times of economic insecurity) that people become most willing to trade values and rights (at least the rights of others) for various other “goods.”  To help you as you go to the polls, here’s a handy chart for prioritizing what to trade for women’s rights and human dignity:

But, just in case “women’s issues” and gender equality are your thing, you just might want to sign the petition calling for “personhood” for women rather than zygotes. It’s a good first step.

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