I think we all know where he ended up… in the Oklahoma state senate. Supporting the newly passed Oklahoma personhood bill.
The bill declares that unborn children (by this bill’s definition, any stage from newly fertilized ovum up to full-term fetus) are recognized as persons, with the same rights as any other person in Oklahoma. This, of course, opens up all kinds of potential abuses:
“But officer, Iam a high-occupancy vehicle! I’m a fertility doctor and I have three hundred test-tube embryos in this cooler!”
“I’d like to claim a dependent on my taxes… how old? um, six weeks gestational age.”
All joking aside, I’d like to explain to you why the abortion debate infuriates me:
It seems to me that there are a couple of straw men here, at least one for each side. The pro-life camp decries the use of abortions as a form of too-late birth control. They seem to feel that, left to our own devices, women would throw caution to the wind and have unprotected sex because “there’s always abortion!” Perhaps there are some women who operate that way, but I can’t imagine there are so many of them.
In the meantime, the pro-choice camp trots out the argument that no woman should be forced to carry to term a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest (although I don’t really understand the “or” there; if it’s consensual incest, she could have forseen the possibility of pregnancy and it’s not the same thing as rape. If it’s forced incest, how is that different from rape?). Again, I’m sure that there are some women who have been assaulted, became pregnant as a result, and chose to terminate. But to use that example over and over again as the reason for keeping abortion legal is missing the point of a movement called “pro-choice“.
Because when you really get down to it, the legality of abortion affects all kinds of reproductive choices – it’s not just about terminating a pregnancy. If a fertilized ovum is a person, if a three-day-old blastocyst is a person, then any infertility doctor who creates more embryos than she intends to transfer back into the womb would be a murderer. So would any infertility patient who, after having frozen a number of surplus embryos, ends up getting a divorce and choosing to destroy the embryos rather than use them. These issues alone would be enough to make many fertility treatments unfeasible, thus restricting women’s right to choose to get pregnant.
Women who get pregnant the “good old-fashioned way” aren’t exempt here, either. If a pregnancy is discovered to have implanted outside the uterus (some figures put this as happening in 2% of all pregnancies) it generally must be terminated. Yes, must. An ectopic pregnancy can cause the rupture of the fallopian tubes or other organs, leading to hemorrhage, leading to death. It’s not even a question of the mother’s life or the baby’s life in those cases – it’s either the mother’s life, or nobody’s. Under the personhood law, a woman who is treated medically for an ectopic pregnancy could be found guilty of murder, although one presumes that she could plead self-defense.
And let’s not even get me started on the alarming idea (already a reality, albeit a rare one) of court-ordered caesarian sections on the basis that the mother may be endangering the life of the fetus (for example, a mother who wants to have a vaginal breech birth.)
There are other cases I won’t go into here, but I think you get the picture. The abortion debate is about choice, and it’s not just about termination. I don’t usually hold with slippery slope arguments, but as soon as you erode one reproductive choice, you erode them all.