Repro Wrap: Here Come the Personhood Bids Again and Other News

This week, three different states have been moving the needle when it comes to granting legal rights to fertilized eggs, and each is doing it in their own way. “Personhood” as a ballot measure was voted down in Mississippi already, but the Personhood Campaign wants to give that another try and is working their way onto a new ballot. The definitions haven’t changed, and they still want to ban anything that could interfere with a zygote from the moment of fertilization. According to Personhood Mississippi, however, the state is really on their side. The reason they failed last time, they claimed, was that voters just didn’t know exactly what they were trying to ban. Clarification made: they want to ban birth control, IVF, abortion and so on. There, that wasn’t so hard.

New Hampshire, surprisingly, is also debating legal rights for fertilized eggs. A “life begins at conception” bill was debated this week, with legislators arguing that it was up to them to speak for the unborn. The so-called “All People Created Equal” Act says it is not about abortion, per se, but about ensuring every “person” is treated equally regardless of gender, race or disability. Pretty as the sentiments are, in reality, it’s a backdoor personhood bill just as blatant as anything the Mississippi folk are concocting.

Perhaps the most emotionally compelling of the personhood attempts this week is the one occurring in Florida, where the woman tricked into ingesting medication she believes caused her to miscarry has begun advocating for a Florida “unborn victims of violence” act that would have allowed the ex who slipped her the medication to be prosecuted for murder. In the past, such charges only could be levied in Florida if the fetus was at viability, and the new bill would change that to be at any stage in pregnancy. Remee Lee’s suffering after the loss of her pregnancy is obvious and heartwrenching, especially as she calls herself “a frame” missing the child she should be holding. Now that suffering may be the impetus that makes Florida grant legal protection to the unborn, starting at the moment of fertilization.

A Catholic school in Montana is refusing to renew the contract of an assistant softball coach. Their reason for ending the relationship? She started working at a local Planned Parenthood. An Oklahoma bill to have doctors tell patients whose fetuses have severe anomalies that there are prenatal hospices that can care for their children until they die is continuing through the legislature, despite the fact that there are no actual prenatal hospice centers in the state.

Alabama is considering four bills at once, including one that will ban abortion at the point of a detectable heartbeat, which is as early as 21 days after conception, and another that would extend the current 24 hour wait to a 48 hour one. Because when you literally only have days in which to arrange an abortion before it becomes illegal to get one, of course an extra day of waiting makes sense. When it comes to waiting, Alaska teens could have an even harder time getting through their own wait, as the courts review whether the new parental consent law is constitutional. Missouri women may also be waiting even longer, as the legislature debates a 72 hour wait. The reason for the extension? Pregnant people have “a lot of information they need to consider,” according to one bill proponent. Apparently, they don’t actually do any thinking before they arrive at the clinic.

South Carolina and West Virginia are both moving ahead with so-called “fetal pain” pre-viability bans, adding to the number of states that have put these unconstitutional abortion bans on the books. At this point, a Supreme Court review is pretty much inevitable. An Iowa bill passed last year that no longer allowed the state Medicaid to pay for abortion of fetuses with anomalies continues to be mostly ineffective, as the only hospital that does the procedure in such cases has decided to absorb the medical costs rather than seek reimbursement. At the same time, Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad is encouraging anti-choice advocates to be patient and push for more restrictions.

South Dakota is in the process of passing a ban on “gender-selection” abortion, despite no evidence of such abortions occurring and no providers who offer termination that late in gestation anyway. Speaking of abortion procedures in South Dakota that never get done, the state will also debate a “live dismemberment of a fetus” bill, which is really meant to lay the groundwork for a new federal battle over ending all second trimester abortions.

A Texas clinic that has been unable to get a transfer agreement under the new state requirements has been shut down, and the doctor’s license was pulled as a result. Much like Texas, Ohio continues to see its clinic access dwindle down to near non-existence, too.

In good news this week, the state of New Hampshire has passed its own buffer zone to provide additional protection at abortion clinics, some Planned Parenthoods in Arizona have returned to offering medication abortions now that they have a provider on staff that can meet the state’s new restrictions, and a bill that would have made public the names of doctors in Indiana who were providing back up care for abortion providers in the state has failed to make it out of committee, meaning that anti-choice activists will not have the opportunity to find and harass those back up physicians until the doctors agree to stop being involved even peripherally with abortion procedures.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S9 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim Ven9 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Brad Hunter
Brad H3 years ago


Elke Hoppenbrouwers

I just read two interesting articles. In Republican dominated Texas where they closed all women and family clinics and made it very hard to buy birth control they had 30.000 unwanted pregnancies. One of the youngest preterm birth that survived is a girl that was born 5 month into the pregnancy. So whoever talks about personhood for 2 or 3 month old human fetuses should think about that.

Heather G.
Heather G3 years ago

Martha F, it IS an embryo or fetus as opposed to a baby (which is a born person) NOT as opposed to human!! Embryo and fetus are scientific terms and do not in any way mean "not-human." Women are NOT stupid they know their embryo and fetus are human, and if born will be a human-being! Where's your proof that the number of abortions due to rape or incest is small?? There isn't any. For one thing rape and incest are very unreported crimes that happen far more than is known about and for another thing women don't have to provide a reason for getting an abortion. Are you suggesting that rapists are more careful to take contraceptive measures than the average couple? You might view abortion as abdicating personal responsibility and that is YOUR choice. But someone else might find it very irresponsible to birth a child they cannot take care of and that is THIER choice.

Ellie K.
Ellie K3 years ago

Its crazy how this is even a topic People have their rights, and leave them alone. People are trying to control EVERYTHING now n days I swear. This is not an empire, and our bodies r not theirs to concur.

Rhonda Bird
Rhonda B3 years ago

thank you.

Martha Ferris
Martha Ferris3 years ago

It is ironic that as women have fought to be recognized as people, to stop being viewed as objects, to have rights over our persons, that we objectify the child we carry within us by calling it an embryo or fetus. By not identifying it as human we play mind games with ourselves but it doesn't change the fact that it is a human being for what else can it be? You can't have it both ways ladies. I view abortion as an abdication of personal responsibility. The cases of pregnancy from incest and rape are small compared to the total so this is no defense. If you don't want to have a child then PREVENT IT FROM HAPPENING!

Donnie H.
Donnie H4 years ago

The right-wing fanatics want smaller government, so the religious bullies can take over, and rule our lives. God help us if they do, because the devil is in 'their' details. BTW, the republican party of hate, plans to control the transportation industries, starting with buses. The minorities will ride in the back of the bus. The women and gays will be thrown under the bus. If all goes well, they will do the same with planes, trains and automobiles. Pretty soon, the right-wingers will be the only ones left, and they can rule the world the way they want. I'm just kidding... I think!

A F.
Athena F4 years ago

Please Jesus, save me from your followers. ;)

Just kidding, of course. I know a lot of Christians who don't buy into this anti-birth control crap.

How about as an alternative to all this madness, we just get our medical professionals to find a way to temporarily sterilize all men from birth.. until they are in sanctioned marriages and ready to unleash the kraken, as it were? Then and only then, would they be allowed to reverse the process. I mean, they aren't supposed to be spilling their seed all willy-nilly, right? That's...bad. Touching yourself is bad. Fornicating without the sacred union of marriage is bad. Right? Oh wait.. most top medical professionals who could work on this process are probably men and wouldn't like that very much.. hmm..... Go figure. :P

And before people scream, no, I don't think men should be sterilized at birth. I'm just trying to show how well the same sort of BS would go over if roles were reversed. I don't think ANYONE should have their reproductive rights taken away. It's called a RIGHT for a reason.