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“Stealth Personhood”: Colorado Antichoicers Have Gotten Craftier About Framing Their Next Ballot Text

Since there’s been more discussion of “Personhood” initiatives this year than in past years, and since Colorado’s a state where such initiatives have been voted down twice, it’s worth being aware that the Colorado antichoicers have gotten craftier about framing their next ballot text. This time around, they’re trying to amend the state’s criminal code and wrongful death law to include the “unborn” in the definition homicide. Here’s a report from TNR’s Jessica Schulberg:

The initiative has tied its campaign to the story of a 29-year-old woman named Heather Surovik. In 2012, Surovik was 8-months pregnant with her third child when a drunk driver struck her car. The unborn baby, whom she planned to call Brady—the initiative is also known as the “Brady Amendment”—did not survive the crash. The driver, Gary Sheats, pleaded guilty to drunk driving and vehicular assault. But Surovik felt that at 8 pounds and 2 ounces, Brady warranted the same protections under criminal law as a living being. She wanted Sheats charged with homicide as well.

Sympathetic as this story is, the amendment could have truly damaging consequences for women’s reproductive freedom. “Amendment 67 is extremely misleading in its language,” said Diana Hsieh, Ph.D, in a recent press release by the Coalition for Secular Government. “The proponents of the measure apparently want voters to believe that it is about protecting pregnant women from vicious criminal attacks, but the reality is that the measure would treat women as murderers for getting an abortion or even for using certain types of birth control or in vitro fertility treatments,” she added.

It’s an even bigger bait-and-switch than all those “medical regulations” that are shutting down abortion clinics around the country under the guise of protecting “women’s health.” And its prospects rely entirely on perpetuating that deception. It’s unlikely to work, but it’s still reprehensible. Colorado voters clearly don’t want to make zygotes quasi-citizens, or create a legal foundation for attacks on early-term abortions, IV fertility clinics, or contraception. Tricking them into indicating otherwise won’t exactly enhance the already thin reputation for integrity of the antichoice folk.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 14, 2014

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Personhood, Reproductive Choice, Women's Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Rand Paul Vs. Rand Paul On Personhood”: Every Week, Rand Paul Is Selling A New Version Of Rand Paul

There’s one “culture war” issue that seems to cause anxiety for many Republican politicians. Opposing reproductive rights in general and wanting to overturn Roe v. Wade is usually pretty easy for GOP candidates, but support for “personhood” has become something of a third rail. Given recent developments, it’s understandable – personhood measures wouldn’t just ban all abortions, they’d also block common forms of birth control.

And Republicans clearly realize that opposing birth control in the 21st century, when the party is already struggling with the gender gap, isn’t a credible option.

As a result, we see far-right Senate hopefuls like Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and other ardent personhood supporters suddenly scramble to distance themselves from their previous position. Each of them assume the key to joining the Senate is backing away from an extremist policy like this one.

But let’s not forget that there’s already an enthusiastic personhood supporter in the Senate.  Ryan Lizza reports on one of Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) most controversial proposals:

In recent Profile of Senator Rand Paul, Dr. John Downing, the Senator’s friend and former medical partner, expressed his worries about Paul’s sponsorship of the Life at Conception Act, also known as the personhood law. The bill would ban abortion and grant the unborn all the legal protections of the Fourteenth Amendment, beginning at “the moment of fertilization.”

To Downing, who is an ardent Paul supporter, this seemed like political madness. Downing said that he believed Paul’s personhood law would make some common forms of birth control illegal, and thus doom Paul’s Presidential hopes. “He’s going to lose half or more of women immediately once they find out what that would do to birth control,” Downing told me.

Part of the Kentucky Republican’s pitch is that he can be a national GOP leader by appealing to young people with his message of limited government. On the other hand, Rand Paul introduced – and has fought aggressively in support of – federal legislation that treats a fertilized egg as a full-fledged human being with constitutional rights, which in turn would prohibit any form of birth control (IUDs, emergency contraception, etc.) that prevents that egg from implanting in a uterine wall.

One assumes many younger voters, most notably women, might have a problem with that, especially coming from a candidate whose raison d’etre is ostensibly opposition to “big government.”

All of which brings us to last week, when Rand Paul seemed to hedge on his own legislative commitment.

American Bridge posted this item last Tuesday.

Paul was asked today in South Carolina about his position on the morning-after pill, and he affirmed his support for it. Which is all good and well, except that he brags about introducing personhood legislation that could make it illegal. He’s consistently been one of the most extreme politicians in Washington when it comes to women’s issues. Just check out this video that he recently scrubbed from his YouTube account.

Now Rand Paul thinks he can lie his way to the middle and twist himself into a candidate with broad appeal. It seems every week, you wake up and Rand Paul is selling a new version of Rand Paul.

Lizza’s report, which noted that religious-right activists were not at all pleased with the senator’s position, added, “Paul, having spent the last few years convincing pro-life activists that he firmly believes that the state should protect fertilized eggs the same way it protects all Americans, now simply shrugs at pro-life concerns over emergency contraception.”

All of which is made worse when one considers how many other issues Rand Paul has changed his mind about, shrugging at other positions he also used to hold dear.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, October 9, 2014

October 10, 2014 Posted by | Personhood, Rand Paul, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Next Stop, Twilight Zone, Colo”: Cory Gardner’s Hedging On Personhood, Birth Control And Abortion Laws

Rep. Cory Gardner’s, R-Colo., campaign got some more bad news this weekend. A new NBC News/Marist poll showed Gardner trailing Democratic Colorado Sen. Mark Udall by six points, 47 percent to 42 percent. A similar NBC poll in July showed Udall leading by seven points.

With mail-in ballots dropping on October 14, Gardner’s window of opportunity has closed and he has no discernible path to victory. Polls have consistently shown Udall leading with the key voter demographics here. The same questions that were asked when Gardner announced six months ago – how does he win Colorado Latinos and suburban women – have been answered: He can’t.

Worse yet for Gardner, the NBC poll showed his favorable/unfavorable rating in bad shape, at 40/38. This says the Udall strategy of hammering Gardner on his support for birth control and abortion bans in a pro-choice state like Colorado is paying off.

This also explains the panicked move by the Gardner campaign, which ran an ad on birth control and Gardner’s denying the existence of a federal birth control and abortion ban bill, the Life Begins at Conception Act, that the congressman co-sponsors. When asked about his co-sponsorship of the federal “Personhood” bill by Denver’s KUSA/NBC political reporter Brandon Rittiman, Gardner said this:

Rittiman: How do you square your recent change on personhood at the state level with the bill that you still are on in Congress. The life begins at conception act?

Gardner: Well, there is no federal personhood bill. They’re two different pieces of legislation, two different things.

Rittiman then noted that other co-sponsors of the bill say it is federal personhood legislation. “But it’s still a piece of legislation that says abortion ought to be illegal, no?” Gardner responded, “No. It says life begins at conception.”

This is Twilight Zone material, a clear indication that Gardner is losing because of the issue. And props to Rittiman for asking the follow-up and making Gardner answer the question about what his legislation actually does.

According to factcheck.org, these are identical bills:

We don’t see how the Colorado initiative and the federal bill, which supporters in Congress describe as a “personhood” measure, are different on this point. And neither does one of the groups supporting the state initiative. Jennifer Mason, a spokeswoman for the Yes on Amendment 67 Campaign, which supports the ballot measure, told Colorado public radio station KUNC: “Obviously [Gardner’s] a victim of some bad political advice, there’s no reason for him to pull local support while he’s still 100 percent behind the federal amendment. It doesn’t make any sense.”

We agree. And we didn’t receive any further explanation from the Gardner campaign on the contradiction. We asked Nash at the Guttmacher Institute if there was something in the federal bill that would preclude the concerns over birth control, but Nash agreed that the “moment of fertilization” language was the reason these types of proposals had the potential to prohibit access to hormonal forms of birth control.

…voters in Colorado should know Gardner still supports a federal bill that would prompt the same concerns over birth control as the state measure he says he rejects on the same grounds.

The campaign adage is that if you’re explaining, you’re losing. In Gardner’s case, he’s both explaining and losing his grip on reality.

 

By: Laura K. Chapin, U. S. News and World Report, September 8, 2014

September 10, 2014 Posted by | Cory Gardner, Personhood, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Magically Becoming Irish”: If Corporations Are People, Shouldn’t They Have To Expatriate Like People?

It’s a common complaint among American expatriates: no matter how far away you go, you can’t escape Uncle Sam’s taxes.

But that’s not the case with American corporations that move their putative “headquarters” overseas, as President Obama noted the other day:

In his toughest comments yet on the subject, he accused big US corporations of trying to play “the system” by “magically becoming Irish” through so-called tax inversion deals.

“I don’t care if it’s legal, it’s wrong,” Mr Obama said. “It sticks you for the tab to make up for what they’re stashing offshore.”

There has been a raft of such deals in recent months which have seen big American companies become “Irish” for tax purposes through buying smaller firms registered here. The same trend is happening in the UK and Switzerland. Fears America is losing out on taxes have made the deals controversial.

It’s understandable if businesses have a different tax code that subjects them to different rules to a certain extent, though shady tax dodging is still an enormous moral and financial problem.

But the issue starts to become even more open and shut once we start claiming that corporations are people. If a corporation has “free speech rights” to buy elections, then it should be subject to American taxes even if it “moves” overseas just like actual American people are. If a corporation like Hobby Lobby has personal “religious rights” not to cover its employees’ contraception, then it’s enough of a person to pay expatriate taxes if it decides to move to Ireland.

It has to be one or the other. You can’t become a person when it’s convenient to your bottom line, but not when it isn’t.

 

By: David Atkins, Washington Monthly Political Animals, July 26, 2014

July 28, 2014 Posted by | Corporations, Personhood, Tax Evasion | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

April 12, 2014 Posted by | Anti-Choice, Personhood | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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