On October 8th Ann Rose’s article “Fertilized Eggs Are NOT People!” appeared on the pro-choice blog RH Reality Check. Rose claims the unborn at fertilization are not persons and tries to argue by means of a reduction ad absurdum that fetal personhood would lead to unacceptable consequences. She uses the upcoming vote in Mississippi to define the unborn as persons as her springboard. Here are my responses to her. She writes (in red):
Here are some examples that come to mind of the possible impacts this amendment would have. Add your own insane scenarios in the comments section:
1. A pregnant woman who goes out to dinner with family and friends and accidentally picks up the wrong glass and has a swig of rum and coke can be charged for child abuse. No more than the woman who accidentally pours alcohol into her baby’s bottle. The law would treat accidents like accidents. More to the point, I wonder if Rose thinks women should ever be held liable for drinking while pregnant. I mean to even say such an action is immoral would be to judge women and not trust them, right?
2. What about pregnant illegal immigrants? The right wing is pretty hot on getting them out of the country as fast as possible. Well, this is going to be a big problem when the pregnant immigrant is actually two people...one who is legal (the fertilized egg) and the other who is not (the living, breathing woman). I guess at this point most folks trying to avoid deportation should get pregnant and move to Mississippi and have their "legal" zygote/fetus/child apply for welfare and medicaid.
I have no problem with refusing to deport someone because they are pregnant. However, it is easier from a logistical standpoint to grant citizenship by birth because conception can be hard to determine. While a child waits to become a citizen, however, they still have basic human rights (such as the right-to-life), just like all other undocumented workers and other non-citizens in this country have.
3. Women who are found to have birth control pills could be prosecuted for attempted murder. The supreme irony here is that on the RH homepage right above Rose's link, Amanda Marcotte argued on RH Reality Check that the birth control pill does NOT affect an embryo after fertilization. If this is true, and Marcotte is right, then Rose’s point is moot and regular hormonal contraceptives would not be an issue.
4. If a pregnant woman wearing 2" heels trips and falls, subsequently having a miscarriage, she could be prosecuted for manslaughter. No more than a woman who trips while holding her newborn and kills him would be tried for manslaughter. We would consider it a tragic accident.
5. When a woman has a life threatening ectopic pregnancy, who decides which "person" gets to live and which "person" gets to die? Rose profoundly misunderstands ectopic pregnancy. In this case the embryo has implanted outside of the uterus and there is virtually no chance the baby will survive. Therefore, we save the life we can (which is the mother’s), just as we would save a mother in a car accident if there was a 99% chance her pinned child would die and doing nothing would also result in the mother’s death. Treating the unborn as a valuable human being does nothing to undermine the intrinsic value and rights of pregnant women.
6. Will an ultrasound picture be an acceptable form of ID for the fetus/person to be able to travel out of the country? Will "don't know yet" be acceptable as a category for gender? Children need ID’s so that they when they travel abroad their well-being can be looked after and they won’t simply be sold overseas for example. But the unborn aren’t going anywhere before they are born. If they are born overseas, then they would simply be a citizen of the country where they are born. Just because they aren’t citizens now doesn’t mean they lack the right-to-life. As I said before, illegal immigrants aren’t citizens but we treat them like persons.
7. How will any future candidate for President prove that they were conceived/born in the United States? With a birth certificate, since that’s all the constitution requires.
It’s almost a relief to think about how idiotic this amendment is.
Hello Pot, noticed you called my friend Kettle black. Thought you two should meet.