Personhood – If abortion is murder, so too is male masturbation

Mississippi is at it again with another drive toward personhood. A few years ago, the initiative failed, but now, they think they have the wording that will sway opinions and push a new bill through assuming they can get the 100k+ signatures needed to appear on the 2015 ballot. I don’t live in Mississippi. I’m biologically incapable of producing more children. It’s a year away assuming it makes the ballot.

So, why do I care about this?

Because it’s bad. It’s bad on multiple levels. It’s bad for prochoice women. It’s bad for right to life women as well. It’s potentially bad for pregnant women and it could be a massive game changer for women trying to conceive that need a little help. Potentially, it could be disastrous for doctors. It could rip families apart in a irreparable manner. Plus, I don’t understand how anyone using a shred of logic cannot see this proposed bill for what it is – forcing religious beliefs on everyone – believers and non-believers of this particular flavor of faith alike.

If you don’t know what personhood is, or the exact definition of it confuses you, get in line. In some cases, personhood states you become a person once a pregnancy test is positive. That is a rarely used definition these days because it is seen as antiquated 1950’s stuff. More often, it defines life as beginning at fertilization. In more extreme cases, it defines life as beginning at ovulation. Some go a step further and define life as beginning 1-2 weeks prior to a menstrual cycle beginning. That would mean an egg that is not even in play yet already has the rights of a human being.

Think about that.

That’s what this is really all about – when is a human a human? Usually, I’d get hot and heavy on this., but I want everyone to step back…. take a breath… Have a cup of coffee maybe. Let’s just consider, what a world in which personhood, which defined as a human is a human as soon as an egg is present (fertilized or not), would be like.

A couple has failed to have a child after years of trying. They decide to go the IVF route. But wait, they can’t. Why? The egg is a human with full rights of a human under the 14th amendment. Nothing that may endanger it’s “life” can be done to it. That includes freezing it. It could include harvesting eggs as well as there are scattered minimal instances in which n egg is damaged. Assuming you could go through the procedure in a manner that met personhood laws, the odds of success are significantly diminished. Without freezing, eggs are implanted to a traumatized uterus. If it fails to survive, is that murder?

It’s a serious question. The possibility of it being considered a murder would drive insurance rates for fertility specialists through the roof and make the few that would chance offering a service for only the richest. It’s a massive chance they would be taking.

Now, let’s look at this another way – a simpler. A woman has an ectopic pregnancy. It’s not that rare – about 2% of all pregnancies are ectopic. Working of the latest stats which peg pregnancies, worldwide, at 208 million, there are about 4.16 million ectopic pregnancies annually. Here’s where it gets even scarier, because this is an implantation problem and not something the right vitamins or a fat ban account cures  – pregnant women have no rights regarding how to handle an ectopic pregnancy.

Ectopic pregnancies are life threatening. It’s basically a hemorrhage and if untreated it is too often fatal. About half resolve on their own, but that means half don’t as well. Under personhood laws, the fetus has done nothing willfully wrong, even if it’s existence may kill the host mother, therefore, back to the 14th amendment, it cannot be removed. Even if the fetus has a 0% chance of survival, it has the rights a human has and as an ‘Innocent” it’s rights actually trump those of the mother.

Now, let’s say you are pregnant and you have a glass of wine once every few weeks. Even if your doctor tells you, as so many do, that an occasional glass of wine is okay, under personhood, it isn’t. Why? Well, one reason is because there is a minuscule chance it could harm the fetus. On the side of what we’d assume is ridiculous, but not so much in light of recent news and this possible legislation, almost anything you do could be said to harm your fetus. Refuse pre-natal vitamins? That could be harm. Jogging? Someone could argue that is harm. Work long hours? … Harm… Don’t sleep 7-8 hours each night? Harm. Indulge in spicy food too often? Harm. Standing on a chair to dust cupboards? Harm. You might fall!

It’s so ridiculous, that about all you can do is sit still and act as incubator. But then again, not exercising at all could be deemed harmful. See how this could easily spiral out of control? Consider that woman who didn’t even know she was pregnant – and skied and fell – found out in the hospital she was 6 weeks along – and was charged with child endangerment. She didn’t even KNOW yet! It was only 6 weeks along….

One last look at this. No matter what the circumstances are – under personhood, you can NEVER abort the fetus. Or endanger an egg. EVER! No matter if the mother will die. No matter if the child will die upon delivery or even in-utero. No matter if mother and fetus will die. No abortions ever, for any reason. Period. Dr. Clifton W. Story who is a personhood advocate stated he believes it is more important to save the fetuses than the mothers that would die without legal, safe access to abortions. Of course, he bases that on his religious beliefs as do most personhood activists.

Here’s my question. If it takes a man and a woman to fertilize an egg – where’s all the laws that are restricting the reproductive rights of men? Where are they? Just as an egg is nothing without sperm, a sperm is nothing without an egg. Yet for some reason, we focus on the eggs. We focus on the mother. Yes, she does carry the fertilized egg to term – no argument there, but the sperm donor is 50% responsible for there being something to carry.

So if we want to be fair and equal, no masturbation for men. Every time they masturbate, they are abandoning potential children. The sperm become non-viable and die. Male masturbation is murder! Let’s start legislating that. Let’s start saying that since men are half of fertilizing an egg, why aren’t they charged with child endangerment when they drink alcohol? Or smoke pot? Or wear underwear that is too tight or do ANYTHING that can decrease their sperm count or potentially make them non-viable or damaged? And if they want to do all those things —- snip snip bitch! Get snipped and do whatever you want. And to go a step further, since men are responsible for fertilizing a woman’s egg, and if the fertilized egg is a person, if the woman is charged with ANYTHING that potentially endangers that child, the father faces the same charge. A good father looks after the humans he helps create so there ya go! He should have been paying attention to what his baby momma was doing!

Does that seem fair?  If it doesn’t, why not? Because we’re used to a world where the woman carries the child and the man can walk away whenever? Creating a child is a 50-50 proposition and good or bad, EVERYTHING should be split 50-50. If you can legislate a woman’s reproductive rights, so too should we be able to do to men.

Personhood: The Nightmare That Won’t End

By: Amanda K. Fox

The personhood bills are among the most potentially frightening pieces of legislation that lawmakers have brought to the floor in many years. What makes them frightening is not just the language they use, but how radically misunderstood what exactly personhood is. No woman, on either side of the political divide, can afford to not know the reality of what personhood means – not only legally, but personally.

 

7297815-espermatozoides-humanos-intentar-llegar-a-un-ovulo-humanoIn lay terms, personhood means that life begins at conception. Quite a few people personally believe this, but the real issue is the debate over when conception begins. In most states, the push is for conception to be defined as the instant an egg becomes fertilized. In Arizona, however, conception is defined as occurring two weeks prior to fertilization – and that is a law on the books since April of 2012.

 
With no nationally accepted definition of when conception occurs, this is a messy can of worms to open. The conservative right has their eyes set on a national policy if they can take control politically. This also entails the availability of contraception. The problem with any personhood legislation, uniform or not, is that American women will lose control of their reproductive rights. Give that a moment to sink in because it is not said for shock value.

 

By the numbers, 62% of all women in America use some form of contraception. Another 7% use nothing and the remainder report being postpartum, sterile, not sexually active or actively trying to conceive. Of those who report trying to get pregnant, most have used some form of contraception at an earlier time or plan to in the future (according to Planned Parenthood.) Personhood bills are intended to minimize Roe v. Wade. Most agree that the decision itself is almost impossible to overturn; however, if enough impediments are in place, legal abortions will be virtually impossible to obtain. This is where the talk of such nonsense as “legitimate” and “illegitimate” rape comes from, as victims of rape and incest have long been an issue that stands in the way of getting Roe v. Wade off the books.

 
personhood11 (2)-375x250This is the problem women face if personhood bills are passed: miscarrying could technically result in “wrongful termination of a pregnancy” charges in certain situations. It all depends on the interpretation of each case. Personhood legislation endows eggs with civil rights – in some cases, again as with Arizona, even an unfertilized egg (ova) now has civil rights. For all intents and purposes, it has the same legal rights as you do while you are reading this. Since the Arizona version of personhood is the standard that many supporters of the concept are pushing for, let’s examine the implications, even if farfetched, a bit closer.

 
What Arizona has done with the passage of their personhood legislation is that they have narrowed the window for legal abortions to the slimmest margin in the US. Because pregnancy is assumed to begin the day after a woman’s last menstrual period ends, they have cut the window to about 18 weeks. While that is 4-6 weeks less than the national norm, that is not where everything gets ridiculously tricky.

 
Because pregnancy is assumed prior to actual conception, women are basically assumed to be nearly perpetually pregnant. Would a fertile woman that drinks in excess be looked upon as endangering her child even if she is not carrying a fertilized egg? Drinking to excess would be damaging to an embryo and if woman did not become pregnant during that cycle, could it be said that the alcohol was to blame triggering a wrongful and illegal termination accusation?

 
422192_344769372230533_218167498224055_1006731_793468284_nWhat about a woman that smokes? Carcinogens can impact an embryo and therefore could be considered child abuse? And yes, we are saying embryo, because even if an egg is not fertilized to the standards of science and reality, legally it is a person of a few minutes to couple weeks old. What if you left the state and your husband/lover/potential sperm donor decides he misses the unfertilized egg and claims you kidnapped it? That’s a federal charge! It is, after all, legally a person.

 

Consider the Mitt Romney viewpoint, in which there is a less restrictive personhood concept. Romney is nominally in favor of allowing abortions in cases of rape, incest or a terminal pregnancy. The problem is, it needs to be a “legitimate” rape and incest must be proved. Why is that problematic?

 
The problem lies in who determines whether a rape is legitimate or whether an incestual encounter resulted in the pregnancy. Even if a woman does prove she was raped, if she was having normal sexual relations with someone aside from her rapist during the window in which she could be impregnated, can she prove it is the rapist that got her pregnant? To prove rape or incest, a woman must have the wherewithal and ability to immediately report it and preserve evidence for a proper rape kit – even in the case of incest.

 
From that point, the victim has to deal with the police, then wait for a DNA warrant on the perp (If possible to obtain), a preliminary hearing, and a trial before the defendant’s peers. Does anyone realistically think that will all come down in less than 18 weeks – keeping in mind this is not an episode of Law & Order where everything is resolved at the top of the hour?

 
Should a “legitimate” rape or case of incest not be proved within the legal abortive window, there are no extensions for obtaining an abortion. The same is true even if it is proved outside the legal abortive window. The woman has to carry the child to term. She does have the option to place the child for adoption.which may or may not happen. Of course, she could opt to keep the child, but that choice comes with its own host of potential problems.

 
personhood-map-0521This doesn’t even address the can of worms that is birth control – conservatives wish to make that harder to obtain as well. Illegal, in fact, if some legislators had their way. Even invitro fertilization would become so risky from a liability standpoint that it could potentially go the way of the dinosaur. This is an actual declaration of war on the reproductive rights of women. Curiously enough though, only 50% of the equation necessary to create human life is being held to any kind of standard. No matter how legislation is worded, an ova alone does not create a human – sperm is needed as well and that comes from a man. Sperm is being perpetually produced in fertile males, not cycles, in which ova is available for fertilization in women.

 
This is the other half of life an ova requires to become a zygote. Why is not included in personhood legislation?

 
images (2)Sperm is not considered a person like an egg, even though it is no more or less impressive than an egg regarding reproductive purposes. Therefore, a man has full reproductive rights of his body. He can masturbate and not worry about violating the law, potentially incurring a charge of child abandonment. He can smoke and drink to excess and not be legally open to the possibility of potential legal repercussions for damage to his reproductive system.

 
It is understood that this seems far fetched, but in a nation of equals, shouldn’t men and women be held to an equal standard regarding their reproductive systems? It isn’t very likely anyone would charge a woman with child abuse of her unfertilized ova even if they are considered people under the law. We point these scenarios out to demonstrate how poorly thought out and written much of this personhood legislation is.

 
What is not far-fetched is the fact that women will suffer under personhood laws. Children that otherwise would not exist if their mother’s had control over their reproductive rights may suffer. Couples trying to get pregnant using IVF may find it more difficult and expensive. There is also the question of whether or not all fertile women have to be afforded all the legal rights of a pregnant woman in the workplace along with proper prenatal care by default. After all, that ova may turn into a person one day and no one would want to be held liable for failing to provide proper care.

Women and personal responsibility: A double edged sword

By: Grace Alexander

 

There’s a lot of talk these days about taking personal responsibility for one’s life and actions. This is particularly true when it comes to women. Politicians seem caught in a cycle of alternately trying to woo and trying to legislate women, and the words “take responsibility” come up a lot. A LOT.

 

Women are, however, often caught between a rock and a hard place. Whatever choices they make, no mater how hard they try to be responsible, they are somehow always in the wrong.

 

personal_responsibility_areaOne of the main contexts for this demand that a woman “take responsibility” has to do with her employment.

Another context is her sex life.

Another context is her children.

Sadly, women’s rights are being attacked and cut on every turn, while societal expectations and the realities of survival combine to make “being responsible” almost impossible for women outside of strict and restraining scenarios.

 

Let’s look at the first context.

 

The Working Woman

First you have the woman who puts her job first – above relationships, a family, hobbies – she’s the unwed, un-affianced career woman, determined to be self supporting.

 

Somehow, instead of being looked on as responsible for choosing to delay breeding until a later date (or possibly indefinitely), she ends up being looked at askance, pitied and even possibly derided for her “irresponsibility” on attending to the childbearing side of her life.

However:

 

  • If she marries, has kids and doesn’t quit her job she’s an irresponsible mother.
  • If she marries, has kids and does quit her job she is an irresponsible provider (unless she’s married to a wealthy man, in which case all is forgiven.)
  • If she has kids out of wedlock, she is an insanely irresponsible slut (unless she is a rich celebrity in which case she is just a slut – unless she is Bristol Palin, in which case apparently it’s OK because the Palins are good Christians – and rich.)
  • If she doesn’t have children at all she’s somehow “unnatural”.
  • If she waits to have children until she can support them, she is irresponsible for choosing a post 35-40 pregnancy.

If she has an abortion she is horrifyingly irresponsible. For what? For having sex – translation: being a slut. (We have to talk about abortion in this article, but we are not going to get into a huge debate on whether or not an abortion is “murder” or whether a “maybe” is a baby. That is another conversation. For the purposes of this article, abortion is no more and no less than the termination of a pregnancy.)

 
This brings us to the second context.

 

Women Who Have Sex

 

Next, you have the average women who has a healthy, normal sex drive.

 

An alarmingly large number of people seem to think that women should be considered irresponsible for simply having sex at all – unless they are doing it with the intent to procreate. How many times have you seen the following comments:

 

“If a woman’s not willing to be responsible, she should keep her legs closed!”
“Women should be made to face the consequences of their actions”
“Having sex comes with RESPONSIBILITY”

 
(This responsibility always seems to fall on the women having sex, not on the men having sex – because the men cannot get pregnant. They have no “consequences.”)

 

Of course having sex comes with responsibility!

 

  • You should be respectful of your partner.
  • Discussion should be held beforehand as to what types of sex acts are acceptable
  • Don’t rape anyone. Rape includes having sex with ANYONE unable to consent.
  • Disclose if you have any type of sexually transmitted disease
  • Birth control should be addressed by BOTH parties
  • All of these are good rules of thumb to think about when deciding to have sex with someone.

 

Sometimes, however, stuff happens.

 

  • Condoms break.
  • Birth control fails.
  • Someone lies (“I’ve had a vasectomy” or “I’m sterile”)
  • Someone gets raped (Note: putting this under “stuff happens” in no way is intended to diminish the horror of rape.)
  • Pregnancy occurs. The woman must decide what to do. This is her chance to be responsible.
  • Should she have a pregnancy she is not ready for?
  • Should she have a pregnancy she cannot afford?
  • Should she have a pregnancy that was forced on her?
  • Should she have a pregnancy that puts her life at risk?
  • Only the woman can decide what the responsible thing is for her to do.
  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue the pregnancy if it is unwanted.
  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue the pregnancy if she is poor.
  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue the pregnancy if it means throwing away everything she ever worked for.

 

  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue a pregnancy that has no chance of viability.
  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue a pregnancy if she knows she is mentally ill.
  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue a pregnancy in light of serious genetic considerations.

 

  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue a pregnancy that could result in a child being born that a rapist would have parental rights to.
  • She may decide it is irresponsible to continue a pregnancy that could result in a child being born that will suffer terribly.
  • The woman has decisions to make. She needs to be responsible. She needs choices. She has choices.

 

At least, she is supposed to have choices.

 

In many states, opponents of Roe vs. Wade are doing an end run and simply tying up those choices in so much red tape that they are not available.

 

Birth control and anti-conception pills (commonly known as the morning-after pill and often misrepresented by pro-birthers as “abortion pills”) are not always easy to get, and can be denied a woman if the pharmacist who is supposed to dispense them claims his religion says any form of family planning is bad. This block women’s access to their choices by using a third party’s religion to deny them their legal rights.

 
In many states, laws exist to hinder women from gaining access to abortions by forcing them to see pro-birth counselors who will lie to them and say abortion causes cancer and other diseases. The laws also require multiple visits to facilities that may be hundreds of miles away on different dates, making it hard to comply with all of the rules before the window for abortion closes. This blocks women’s access to their choices by deliberately placing insurmountable obstacles in their way.

 
In other states, the date of conception has been redefined as the date of the woman’s last period, leading to the concept of “pre-pregnancy”. This also serves as a way to tighten the window for abortion – in some cases, so tight so many women will be past the legal permissible date for an abortion before they ever find out they are pregnant. This blocks women’s access to their choices by requiring them to predict pregnancies in advance.
Rape (a generally accepted – though convoluted – reason for allowing abortions) has been redefined and categorized, with only certain types of “forcible” rape being considered legitimate enough to qualify. Even child incest victims can be forced to carry to term, regardless of whether or not their bodies are strong enough. This blocks women’s access to their choices by forcing them to validate their need for the choice – which is often impossible.

 
Doctors are now allowed to lie to women in some states, withholding information that they think might cause the women to consider an abortion if the doctor claims his religion is against it. This would include cases in which the embryo or fetus displayed severe defects, or if the woman’s life would be put in peril by carrying to term. This blocks women’s access to their choices by never letting them know the choices exist or could be needed.

 
The choice to be responsible is being taken away from more women every day. Dozens of states have “personhood legislation” in the works, which would declare an egg that simply has the possibility of being released and fertilized to be a complete human with more rights than the woman in whose body it resides. Women are in danger of being relegated to being breeding machines, completely regulated by the state.

 

However, once a pregnancy is enforced, suddenly the society and government pushing the woman to give birth abdicates all interest, and the woman is left with the third context.

Motherhood

Once a child enters the world, a whole new way to find women irresponsible manifests. As mentioned above, if she works, she is neglectful and irresponsible. If she doesn’t, she is lazy and irresponsible (unless she married up).

  • Women are considered irresponsible for putting their children in daycare provided by state funding.
  • Women are considered irresponsible for not being able to hold down a job because they keep getting fired when their kid gets sick and the daycare turns them away and they have to stay home for 3 days.
  • Women are considered irresponsible for not being able to find a job because the only ones available require working part time shifts that change every week and don’t synch with hours the daycare is open.
  • Women are considered irresponsible for having medical care for their children provided by Medicaid.
  • Women are considered irresponsible for feeding their children with food provided by food stamps.
  • Women are considered irresponsible for not having a strong male role model in the house – even though the children’s father left her when he found out one of the kids had cancer and if she has a boyfriend everyone calls her a slut.
  • Women are considered irresponsible for having kids in the first place.

 
Take a good hard look at that last one – then scroll back up and see how hard it is for women NOT to have kids – unless, of course they stay celibate (and even then they could still be forced into sex against their will.)

 

Of course, some people say women could take the extreme route, and ensure they don’t get pregnant by having the works removed once and for all. Then they could have sex “responsibly” since there would be no possibility of pregnancy.

 

There are several problems with that scenario, however.

 

Tying tubes is not a sure thing. Hysterectomies not medically required are generally considered elective, and are very expensive – not to mention invasive.

 
A huge number of doctors will not perform any type of sterilization on women under a certain age or who have not borne a certain number of children yet – even if the woman cannot carry a pregnancy to term, has severe heritable genetic problems, or knows she has mental illness that would prevent her from ever being a competent mother. Without access to a doctor willing to perform the procedure, the procedure is unattainable.
So. There are only two REAL choices left to women if they hope to be considered “responsible”.

 

No, not having the right to make choices about whether or not they should have kids, or when, or how.
No, not having access to family planning options like birth control and abortion.
Basically, women – in order to not be considered irresponsible – should:

 

Marry wealthy men and bear children and not work outside the home (charity work is OK if the man is wealthy enough to provide nannies.)

 
Otherwise be celibate (and not get raped – good luck!)

 
Without the right to their own bodies and access to choices, women are barred from taking responsibility. Instead they are prevented from having control over their own bodies and tasked with surviving in a country that sees them as uterii only, with only the two options listed above as REAL choices available to them (and even choice number two is questionable and can be taken away.)

 

It’s time to stop telling women what they can or cannot do. It’s time to stop holding women hostage because of what their bodies can do. It’s time to make sure they have access to choices. Only then can women thrive and lead happy, healthy, fulfilled lives, and take full responsibility for themselves – which includes deciding if they need to be responsible for anyone else!