“Fetal Personhood Ploy”: Anti-Choice Lawmakers In South Carolina Want Pregnant Women To Arm Themselves To “Protect The Unborn”
A state Senate panel in South Carolina advanced legislation Thursday that states a pregnant person has a right to use deadly force to protect the “unborn … from conception until birth.” The measure is called the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act,” and it is model legislation written and disseminated by Americans United for Life.
As usual, the words “pregnancy” and “protection” are red herrings.
First, South Carolina’s “stand your ground” law already allows for the use of deadly force anywhere a person claims to fear for their lives or the life of someone around them. (It is a terrible and dangerous law.) So opponents of the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” have rightly pointed out that this measure is entirely redundant.
But the bill does serve a serious purpose for anti-choice policymakers and activists working to endow fertilized eggs with personhood status and legal rights, a move that would suppress the rights of pregnant people and likely ban abortion and most forms of contraception. The measure tries to accomplish this — or at least open the door to these possibilities — by defining life as beginning at conception.
Here’s the language from the bill:
(1) ‘Pregnant’ means the female reproductive condition of having an unborn child in the female’s body.
(2) ‘Unborn child’ means the offspring of human beings from conception until birth.
The measure also pays considerable lip service to the very real threat of violence faced by women and pregnant people, but does nothing to strengthen existing anti-violence laws, create additional funding for domestic violence service providers or increase actual resources to aid people in violent situations.
None of this was lost on the opponents of the measure. “No one disputes that violence against pregnant women is a concern in our state and few would deny the need for swift action to stop any instances of further violence,” Emma Davidson, spokeswoman for South Carolina Coalition for Healthy Families, told the Aiken Standard. “But it is hypocritical to introduce legislation claiming to protect victims of domestic abuse, rape and violence while simultaneously outlawing emergency contraception, a key treatment option for those victims.”
And for those looking for further proof that the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” is just a fetal personhood ploy, the committee also debated a fetal personhood measure during the same session.
The “Personhood Act” would outlaw abortion outright by granting legal rights to fertilized eggs and fetuses.
By defining life as starting at conception, Davidson explained, the measure could also outlaw birth control and emergency contraception. And as University of South Carolina family law professor Marcia Zug told the Aiken Standard, the bill could ban abortions without exception. “A fetal personhood bill which would outlaw abortions in even the most life-threatening of circumstances has never been an option with the Supreme Court. It is clearly unconstitutional,” Zug said.
And if lawmakers are really interested in reducing rates of domestic violence in the state, they may instead want to focus their efforts on funding domestic violence service providers who have had to reduce services in the face of budget cuts. According to a nationwide survey on domestic violence service providers, in a single day in South Carolina, 16 requests from domestic violence victims were turned down because programs did not have the resources to provide them emergency shelter, housing, transportation, childcare or legal representation
More women are killed by men in South Carolina than any other state in the nation; the rate of women killed by men in South Carolina is more than double the national average.
By: Katie McDonough, Salon, April 11, 2014
Religious conviction makes people do and say crazy things, many of them not remotely rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ or other icons of people of faith. Sometimes, those people see the light and realize hate and discrimination are not the goals of any true and sincere religion. And sometimes, those people are so threatened at the thought they might lose control over other groups of people, they double-down on the crazy.
On the hopeful front, we have Alan Chambers, who recently apologized to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community for his years trying to “fix” gays and lesbians by offering “reparative therapy” to make them straight. Exodus International, a Christian ministry, decided to close its doors after 37 years and stop trying to turn gays into heterosexuals. Said Exodus president Chambers in a statement on the group’s website:
For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical. From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.
This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation. Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.
The idea that homosexuals can simply be trained to be sexually attracted to people of the other sex is absurd, and defies logic for two contradictory reasons. An initial thought is that if homosexuality were a choice, we might have a lot more lesbians. Why not double your shoe wardrobe, never mind avoid conversations with your female friends, after a breakup, about how you’ll never understand male behavior? The second thought is that if one could choose one’s sexual orientation, why make a choice that will make you the target of discrimination, violence, hatred and even murder?
Perhaps the idea behind it is that Christians are supposed to hate the sin, but love the sinner. It’s a tremendously impressive step that Chambers has realized that the so-called “sin” was merely being “the sinner” – and that it is wrong to demonize people simply for being who and what God or nature made them.
Score one for tolerance among those claiming to be motivated by religion. It’s been undermined a bit, however, by a group (a small one, thankfully) that thinks men should spank their wives in the name of Christian discipline.
Both The Daily Beast and Jezebel have written about the practice of spanking for Jesus. Called “Christian Domestic Discipline,” the practice is meant to keep wives in line by domestic violence – or, as its adherents call it, just a way to keep a woman in her rightful, submissive place. As The Daily Beast’s Brandy Zadrozny reports:
Referred to as CDD by its followers, the practice often includes spanking and other types corporal punishments administered by husbands—and ostensibly ordained by God. While the private nature of the discipline makes it difficult to estimate the number of adherents, activity in several online forums suggests a figure in the low thousands. Devotees call CDD an alternative lifestyle and enthusiastically sing its praises; for critics, it’s nothing but domestic abuse by another name.
Jezebel’s Callie Beusman writes about the women being under constant supervision and monitoring by their husbands, who punish the adult women with such child-rearing tactics as time outs and having phone privileges taken away.
This isn’t a lifestyle choice. It’s abuse, and it’s no less illegal because it’s being done in the name of religion. It’s the same mindset that led to what Ohio authorities say was the enslavement of three women by a local man who beat them, raped them and kept them from leaving the house. A marriage license and daily prayers don’t make it fundamentally any different.
The leaders of Exodus have joined the modern world, realizing they can’t “save” gays and lesbians from being who they are. The ministry is planning to open under a new name and mission. Perhaps they could rescue the women being abused by CDD followers.
By: Susan Milligan, U. S. News and World Report, June 21, 2013
“Please Just Shut Up”: Phil Gingrey’s Valuable Expert Validation That Many Rape Victims Are Actually Liars
From the “They Just Can’t Help Themselves” file, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s intrepid Jim Galloway informs us that U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA), an OB-GYN, went out of his way in a local speaking appearance to express sympathy for the “legitimate rape” comments of his former colleague Todd Akin:
And in Missouri, Todd Akin … was asked by a local news source about rape and he said, “Look, in a legitimate rape situation” — and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, “Hey, I was raped.” That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that. But then he went on and said that in a situation of rape, of a legitimate rape, a woman’s body has a way of shutting down so the pregnancy would not occur. He’s partly right on that….
And I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, “Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.” So he was partially right wasn’t he? But the fact that a woman may have already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you’re not going to prevent a pregnancy there by a woman’s body shutting anything down because the horse has already left the barn, so to speak. And yet the media took that and tore it apart.
Well, thanks, Phil, for that valuable expert validation of the perspective that many rape victims are actually liars and thus we shouldn’t be reluctant to force them to carry pregnancies they claim are the product of rape to term.
Now please just shut up.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 11, 2013
Earlier today, Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) claimed that “legitimate rape” does not often lead to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This is not the first time the biologically challenged senate candidate tried to minimize the impact of rape. Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”
Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions. Yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. Because the primary target of Akin and Ryan’s effort are Medicaid recipients — patients who are unlikely to be able to afford an abortion absent Medicaid funding — the likely impact of this bill would have been forcing many rape survivors to carry their rapist’s baby to term. Michelle Goldberg explains who Akin and Ryan would likely target:
Under H.R. 3, only victims of “forcible rape” would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,” says Keenan.
Although a version of this bill passed the GOP-controlled House, the “forcible rape” language was eventually removed due to widespread public outcry. Paul Ryan, however, believes that the “forcible rape” language does not actually go far enough to force women to carry their rapist’s baby. Ryan believes that abortion should be illegal in all cases except for “cases in which a doctor deems an abortion necessary to save the mother’s life.” So rape survivors are out of luck.
And, of course, as we learned today, Akin isn’t even sure that “legitimate” rape survivors can get pregnant in the first place.
Update: The Romney-Ryan campaign just released a statement distancing itself from the Akin-Ryan position on abortion in the case of rape: “Gov. Romney and Cong. Ryan disagree with Mr. Akin’s statement, and a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose abortion in instances of rape.”
By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, August 19, 2012
The Violence Against Women Act was enacted in 1994 and has been reauthorized twice with bipartisan support. No one in Congress has ever wanted to be branded the pro-domestic violence party. Yet this week, the Republicans and Democrats entered into a bitter feud that fuels talk of the GOP’s purported “war on women,” and gives Democrats like Representative Judy Chu of California an opportunity to bust out phrases like, “It’s not the Violence Against Women act, but the Open Season for Violence Against Women Act.” From the perspective of the GOP, approving a new version of the act would help protect immigrants and homosexuals from intimate partner violence, and in 2012, that simply cannot stand!
In April, the Senate passed legislation that expands services for immigrants who are domestic abuse victims and specifies that people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender are covered under the law. After a bitter fight on Wednesday, the House passed its own version of the bill, which removed the new provisions in the Senate’s legislation, in a 222 to 205 vote.
Throughout the debate, the GOP’s refrain has been that the bill already protects everyone, so there’s no need to name specific groups. Sounds pretty logical! Yet the GOP is ignoring the fact that immigrants and LGBT people won’t be adequately protected under the House’s version of the law. Per the Christian Science Monitor:
The House bill does not allow for a path to citizenship for illegal women who have been abused and agree to cooperate with the police investigation of the crime. Moreover, it holds the cap on temporary visas offered to women cooperating in legal investigations to 10,000, below the Senate’s increased 15,000 level. Republicans say the citizenship provision is akin to amnesty for illegal immigrants, and expressed fears that the Senate bill will lead to an epidemic of immigrants staging elaborate fake domestic violence situations to get away from their non-abusive partners.Democrats, on the other hand, say that women fearing deportation may never come forward to take abusers off the street under the House bill.
The intent behind specifically naming lesbian, gay, and transgender victims is to prevent law enforcement from using the vague language in VAWA to exclude them from services. Studies have shown that these groups experience domestic violence at the same rates as the general population, but victims are far less likely to seek help.
The American Bar Association, Human Rights Watch, and leaders from 31 religious groups, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Association of Evangelicals, have all spoken out against the House’s bill. President Obama has threatened to veto the House bill, and now Congress needs to hash out a compromise between the two versions of the bill, ensuring that the debate will stay in the news.
By: Margaret Hartman, Daily Intel, May 17, 2012