Pro-life supporters end compassion at birth

Columnist and Columnist

Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that women have a fundamental, constitutional right to privacy regarding pregnancies, at least in the early stages of the pregnancy.

It was a step towards acknowledging that women are, indeed, people. And, by virtue of personhood are entitled to self-determination regarding their bodies, including reproduction.

I suppose that we should not be surprised that in the 41 years since the Roe v. Wade ruling, there has been a concerted effort to deny women the right to control their bodies. According to the ACLU, “During the 2013 state legislative session over 300 anti-abortion restrictions were introduced.” That’s just 2013 alone. Sadly, Ohio is front and center in the efforts to limit reproductive rights.

In fact, the organization Personhood Ohio hoped to place a constitutional amendment on the general ballot in 2012 that would have banned all abortions in Ohio. They failed to collect the necessary number of signatures, but they have vowed to press on. Had they succeeded in 2012, Ohioans would have been voting on whether the legal definition of “person” should include “every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.”

By their reasoning, zygotes should have legal standing as persons.

As I allowed myself some fanciful speculation on where such legislation might lead, I realized that the precious preciousness of that zygote might not be so easily romanticized once it had legal standing as a person.

After all, that zygote-transforming-into-fetus would be entitled to welfare and health care and other entitlements that many anti-choice legislators fall over themselves to deny persons every day.

For many of these anti-choice lawmakers, compassion for those who are vulnerable ends when the baby is born. So, once zygotes and fetuses were granted personhood, would these lawmakers turn on them, too?

Imagine the Ohio legislature a mere two-or-three years after the Personhood Amendment passes. I can see it now— a hardcore opponent of public assistance rises to address fellow representatives. He speaks on behalf of his newly formed caucus, the Earn-Your-Birth Movement:

“If fetuses now have personhood, I say it is high time they quit slacking and earn their keep,” reasons the legislator.

With his passion building, the speaker continues: “Imagine those lazy zygotes just lolling around uteri, leaching nutrients from their hosts. If you think undocumented workers are a problem, you need to wake up and recognize that the insidious slackers lurking in women’s bodies are much more of a drain on our system.”

“These fetuses are not just physically underdeveloped, they’re ethically and morally fetal as well. I say if you want to be born, pay your way. Pull yourself up by your own umbilical cord. Don’t expect some free ride.” The enthusiastic speaker wipes his brow and returns to his seat, pleased with his foresight and wisdom.

Perhaps my imaginings go too far; I’ll be the first to concede that. However, I do worry about those who are willing to grant more rights to a zygote that has the potential to become a female than to the living, breathing females carrying those zygotes.

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