In today’s “whaaaaaaaaaaaat!?” news, fringe anti-abortion group Personhood USA is pushing for a legal redefinition of personhood in which life would begin the very moment sperm fertilizes an egg, even before the embryo would have an opportunity to implant into the woman’s uterus. The effect of such a (ridiculous) redefinition? Contraception, like the Pill, could be outlawed.
Think Progress explains,
These laws would recognize every fertilized egg as an individual and complete human being with full rights, and place millions of women in legal jeopardy. According to 2008 numbers, around 11 million American women use birth control pills and another 2 million use intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Contraceptives like the pill and IUDs not only act to prevent fertilization, but, if fertilization does occur, may prevent that fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus. Personhood USA considers this tantamount to abortion, and wants to make it a punishable offense for women to control their own fertility. Worse, because the proposed legislation could make any effort to terminate a pregnancy a criminal act, it could also bar doctors from saving the lives of women with ectopic pregnancies, which are never viable and need to be terminated as soon as possible.
Also at risk of prosecution would be the millions of women whose fertilized eggs never begin dividing, never implant, or implant but spontaneously abort. This often happens so early on that the woman never even knows she might have been pregnant.
Personhood attempts have been out there for a long time as an anti-abortion tactic. But what makes it particularly scary now is the fact that Alabama is very close to passing such legislation and Mississippians could vote on a personhood amendment to their Constitution as early as this November. These developments are in line with Personhood USA’s goal to have similar measures added to almost half the states’ ballots by 2012.
As fiercely pro-choice as I am, I understand and respect the fact that not everyone else is. However, it goes against every grain of logic to be anti-contraception if you are anti-abortion. Preventing unwanted pregnancies should be the common ground between the two camps, not another battle ground. In what way does outlawing or reducing access to contraception reduce the number of abortions? Oh, right, it doesn’t. It’s just another coercive attempt to control women’s lives through their fertility and shame them for engaging in sexual activity.
I have to wonder how these personhood folks would feel if feminists moved to make fellatio — or hand jobs, even — illegal, since every sperm could result in a potential child?