A freshly fertilized egg has now joined the human race -- at least according to the extreme Pro-Lifers.
No, this is not about immigration, or becoming an American citizen – the “new citizens” in this piece are the newly fertilized ovum who will become “persons” upon conception, if the advocates of “personhood” have their way. That’s right, these tiny little eggs will have all the rights, privileges, and duties of new citizens immediately conferred upon them, as proposed by organizations such as Personhood USA. And already they have had “personhood” successes.
Most notably in North Dakota, where they have successfully gotten personhood granted upon the first sign of a heartbeat (usually about 10 weeks); and as a person, “killing” the embryo would be a crime equivalent to murder. Consequently doctors who would violate this dictum would also be subject to prosecution and severe penalties. (Note: Rowe vs. Wade, the law of the land, allows abortions up to 22 weeks or more in certain cases, and strong medical protection of the mother).
But that is not the worst of it. North Dakota will have on its next ballot an amendment to define from the moment of conception a living human: personhood. The ramifications of this idea are stunning. To begin with, the little egg (let’s name him/her “Ovie” since we do not know gender) would immediately have all the rights the Constitution provides each of us as citizens of America. And it can get even worse; because certain contraceptives may interfere with the fertilization of the egg, they would also be banned by certain extreme groups to assure fertilization of Ovie.
At any rate, let’s talk about the implications of granting little Ovie citizenship. Right off Ovie would enjoy a galaxy of rights and privileges, including (but not limited) to the first ten Amendments (the Bill of Rights). Yes, little Ovie actually has the right to own guns (the Second Amendment). Sure, some of the rights are not conferred till the citizen reaches certain ages – and little Ovie may be only a few minutes old – but he is now a “person” and as such, a citizen as well.
On the other hand, Ovie now has certain responsibilities, obligations, and potential liabilities, as do all citizens. In fact, he has to odd potential to be tried as a criminal, and ironically for murder himself. Why? Because the personhood people will not allow Ovie to be aborted even if he is sick, deformed, and a threat to his mother. This is not at all unlikely, for example take an ectopic pregnancy. As described by Wikipedia: “An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis, is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity… Furthermore, they are dangerous for the mother, since internal hemorrhage is a life-threatening complication…. An ectopic pregnancy is a potential medical emergency, and, if not treated properly, can lead to death”. It should be noted that detection of an ectopic pregnancy is possible with new diagnostic equipment – but what doctor would risk a criminal action performing an abortion in North Dakota to save the mother?
Then we have this possible situation. Suppose a couple from a foreign country comes to the United States for a visit; and during their stay here an egg is fertilized. Ovie is alive! Would he/she then be a citizen of the United States? The short answer is “yes”! The 14th Amendment defines citizenship this way: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." As we currently define “born”, it means when a person arrives outside the womb; the personhood folks define it as when Ovie was conceived – and then be blessed as a “person”. As the headline states: “Welcome new citizen”.
If all this sounds childish, immature, absurd, nonsensical, and even a bit stupid…you are right. It is. But it is also precisely what the personhood advocates have been working for, and in at least one state they have succeeded. They are quite specific about all of the above. Moreover, in a number of other states beyond North Dakota, they have also had success, and have redefined Rowe vs. Wade with incremental restrictions, caveats, and other laws, rules, and obstructions clearly designed to eliminate abortions altogether. Their ultimate objective: get Rowe vs. Wade back into a more conservative Supreme Court. It would not be wise to underestimate their power and dedication – and their success would change the landscape for American women’s rights dramatically… possibly forever. North Dakota is merely the first chapter in this effort.
In earlier times, parents would admonish their young daughters: “you should never have sex before you are married”. The next generation, becoming more liberal advised their daughters: “if you have sex, be sure you have good protection”. Apparently now in the 21st century, the best advice to give young women is: “be careful where you choose to live”.