Continuing from Part I, “How Forced Birth Laws Reflect One Belief about When Human Life Begins,” we need to talk more – and loudly – about the nightmarish costs that will come as a result of these laws.Continue reading “The Nightmarish Costs of Forced Birth Laws On Us All”
This is Part I of II on discussion of issues behind and impacts of forced birth laws:
With the recent wave of anti-abortion laws in America as a clear attempt of anti-abortion proponents to reverse Roe v. Wade, kudos to the public radio program, Here & Now, for recently addressing a cornerstone of these laws that human life begins at conception. The episode, “What Science Says About When Life Begins” weighs in with science and features an interview with Scott Gilbert, a biologist and emeritus professor of Swarthmore College and the University of Helsinki.Continue reading “How Forced Birth Laws Reflect One Belief about When Human Life Begins”
Rebecca Traister’s recent piece on The Cut, “Our Fury Over Abortion Was Dismissed for Decades As Hysterical,” hits hard and directly as what we must do to fight for our reproductive rights in this time of aggressive abortion ban attempts, which ultimately seek to overturn Roe v Wade.Continue reading “The Childfree, Rage, and the Fight to Keep our Reproductive Rights”
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, and TIME‘s recent article, “What Choice? Abortion-rights activists won an epic victory in Roe v Wade. They’ve been losing every since” makes some disturbing points. Here are a few stand outs: Continue reading “Roe v Wade at 40”
First, hats off to reproductive rights supporters who won last night!
If we had elected a “personhood” President, there would be cause for great concern. While personhood and abortion were hot issues during the campaign, one aspect related to both that didn’t seem to come up like it could of, at least in my observation, is the discussion of the definitive answer to the question, When does human life begin?
Anti-abortion factions are stuck on “the moment of conception” as the answer. But as Tamara Mann writes in her Huffpo piece, “Heartbeat: My Involuntary Miscarriage and ‘Voluntary Abortion’ in Ohio:”
“There is little consensus among biologists, doctors and ethicists on when life begins. The language here can be tricky. There all sorts of things they agree are alive — from cells, to animals, to people. But that is not what they mean when they discuss life in utero. In this case, they mean life as something endowed with humanness, and worthy of rights…”
It is not just about whether something is “alive,” but at what point is it human life, or the term that has now been used in many of the legislative attempts to prevent abortions – personhood.
As Mann points out “…the literature reveals a litany (italics mine) of standards for determining personhood: conception (day 1), implantation (day 6-7), detectable heartbeat (approximately week 6), detectable brain activity (approximately week 8), quickening (when the mother can feel the fetus moving), development of the cerebral cortex (at the end of the first trimester), viability outside the mother’s body (now as early as 24 weeks with medical support), when the head is visible during labor, and when the baby takes its first breath. Smart, thoughtful people genuinely disagree.”
And really smart people in the highest court in the land have not come to the answer. Even as far back as 1973, the Supreme Court indicated that people trained in “respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus” and the Court itself “could not resolve the question of when life begins.”
Where do many people go for the answer to this question? To their church. When her doctor told her fetus was “not compatible with life” – that it would not “survive the pregnancy” and that it should be removed, this is what Ms. Mann did.
The fetus had a heartbeat, she was not sure what to do, and went to a rabbi for counsel. She learned that “In Judaism, the dominant metaphor for life is not the heartbeat — it is the breath. In Genesis 2:7, God breathes life into man: ‘Then the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man become a living soul.’ Even that final word, soul, nefesh, can be translated as breath.”
Jewish law errs on the side of the mother’s health, and does not see a fetus as “a life.” As Jodi Jacobson, Editor-in-chief of RH Reality Check describes it, Jewish law “does not recognize an egg, embryo, or fetus as a person or full human being, but rather ‘part and parcel of the pregnant women’s body,’ the rights of which are subjugated to the health and well-being of the mother until birth.”
The Vatican disagrees, and see the fertilized egg is a “person” with full rights under the law. The United Methodist Church – it sees it differently and “recognizes the primacy of the rights and health of women.” And “Islamic scholars, like Jewish scholars, have debated the issues of ‘ensoulment’ and personhood, and continue to do so with no over-riding consensus.”
There is clearly not one answer to the question of personhood. The problem is the “Moment of Conceptionists” do not accept this, and feel so right about their religious position they want all of us to follow it.
As we head into the next four years, expect this contingent to continue to attempt to make personhood, not Roe v Wade, the law of the land. Expect them to try and chip away at this law any way they can.
However, we will have a president at the helm who can make sure the highest Court continues to see the answer to “when life begins” for what it is – a matter of personal belief, and the right to privacy to make personal choices based on those beliefs.