Abortion foes seek to redefine "personhood"
If anti-abortion activists thought that redefining the laws of gravity would help their cause, they wouldn’t let a little scientific evidence get in their way. And the latest campaign is almost as far-fetched: A group called Personhood USA is trying to redefine when life begins. It starts “exactly at creation,” according to Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA. “It’s fertilization; it’s when the sperm meets the egg.” Mason wants laws to recognize every fertilized egg as an individual and complete human being.
Not that it matters to Mason, but the, um, facts aren’t exactly on his side. Medically, fertilization does not mark the beginning of pregnancy — because only about half of all fertilized eggs end in pregnancy. Medically, pregnancy begins once a fertilized egg implants in the uterus. But perhaps Mason doesn’t realize this, given that he probably thinks sex ed is for losers.
If Mason’s campaign is successful, some birth control pills and all IUDs would be illegal. But Mason doesn’t think that sounds so crazy. “Certainly women, my wife included, would want to know if the pills they’re taking would kill a unique human individual,” he says.
We know it sounds like Mason is living on another planet, but unfortunately Mississippi could vote on a personhood amendment to their state Constitution this November (the ACLU is challenging it), and Personhood is aiming to get proposals on the ballot in nearly half of all states by 2012. Let’s just hope that gravity and facts win out.
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