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Abolishing Women's Rights

About this “personhood” business. Could we please call it what it is: the drive to end women’s rights?

If you’ve been lucky enough to have missed it, the personhood movement seeks to declare a fertilized egg a person. This space will not be declaring anything at all about when life begins, and you are honorably welcome to see that anywhere you wish on the pregnancy spectrum: conception, viability, birth, whatever. I’m fine with any definition you choose, even if someone else chooses it for you. What I am not fine with is the movement to “protect the pre-born” by constitutional amendments which force me to abide by someone else’s definition.

Personhood is on the ballot in the State of Mississippi. If it succeeds, other states – Florida, Michigan, the Personhooders are all over – are poised to follow.

The personhood movement, of course, is aimed at the person in whose body the egg resides, whom the State of Mississippi presumes not to be a person with a brain. Or at least with any rights of her own. Once the egg attains personhood, the woman loses all rights to some very personal choices, including abortion and most contraception. Interestingly enough, those so concerned about fertilized eggs tend to be the same people who vote against welfare programs that might help unwanted children once they are born. Once they are born, these unwanteds will be mysteriously loved and cared for by all humankind.

If Mississippi’s amendment, known as Initiative 26, should pass, most contraception – including the IUD and the morning after pill – will be banned, and all abortions will be considered murder, never mind whether the woman is a victim of rape or incest, or will perhaps suffer significantly unless the egg is aborted.  

Which brings us to the Let Women Die bill passed (251 to 170) by the U.S. House of Representatives in October. Sponsor Joe Pitts (R-PA) and fellow supporters call it the Protect Life Act. But it’s the same principle: protect the egg, let the woman die. At all costs, bring more unwanted children into the world.

This is happening at the precise moment when the world population has reached seven billion. The planet went from one billion in 1804 to two billion in 1927, five billion in 1987, six billion in 1999. Millions of those billions are dying in infancy or childhood from hunger, sickness, neglect or abuse.

Protect life indeed. There is life, and a planet, crying out for protection.