Religious Republicans made another sneak attack on American women’s right to self-determination last week and there was barely a whimper; which is the reason the attack was done through subterfuge. And besides a lack of outrage, there was a lack of media reporting that Republicans are embracing a Vatican dictate as their official legislative weapon of choice in the evangelical Republicans’ war on women. Based on the machinations Republicans are using to eliminate women’s reproductive rights, including the right to use contraceptives, they certainly know their agenda is highly unpopular; it is precisely why they ensconced a “personhood” provision deep in the 429-page Republican House tax reform legislation.
Despite several varied states rejecting the bizarre, and frankly absurd, idea of “personhood,” as a legal provision and as a concept, Republicans are pushing the issue as a means of completely controlling women’s reproductive lives. For the second time in Trump and preacher Pence’s burgeoning theocracy, the federal government is officially designating “personhood” status to a “eukaryotic cell formed by a fertilization event between a male (spermatozoa) and female (ookyte) gamete;” it is the result of the “moment of conception” religious Republicans consider sacrosanct.
Some Americans might recall from their 8th grade biology class that the human “eukaryotic cell” is known as a “zygote.” It is the single-celled organism Republicans are crusading to grant full citizenship and constitutional rights as a means of creating a nation of women relegated to the 18th Century Hell of being perpetual birth machines or celibate.
As anyone with a pea-brain understands, Republicans indebted to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), evangelical fanatics, and the anti-women personhood movement inserted the provision giving "personhood" rights from the moment of conception as a prelude to banning abortion and birth control.
The provision seems harmless enough to an idiot, but it is the second time the federal government stated that the “moment of conception” (zygote) has the same rights as real living, and breathing, human beings. Even the evangelicals’ god of the bible said more than once that there is no “living being” until the fetus is out of the womb and breathing the “breath of life” under its own power. But that “immutable word of god” doesn’t help evangelicals control women so they ignore it as if it came from Satan the Devil.
Republicans want to allow expectant parents to start putting away money into “tax-sheltered” savings accounts for college and private religious school tuition for the “child in utero.” If that is the case, then the next step is assigning the zygote, embryo, or fetus a Social Security number like any other living human being with their name on a tax or savings account document. This atrocity is as serious as the Department of Health and Human Services “Mission Statement” providing full protections to “all Americans through every stage of life beginning at the moment of conception.”
If anyone is dense enough to doubt that this sneak attack is not specifically for the benefit of the Vatican, personhood movement and anti-women evangelical groups, the statement by the president of the March for Life organization should dispel any doubt. Jeanne Mancini said:
“A child in the womb is just as human as you or I yet, until now, the U.S. tax code has failed to acknowledge the unborn child [fetus, zygote] — all while granting tax breaks for those seeking an abortion under the pretense of healthcare. The proposed tax plan is a huge leap forward for an antiquated tax code, and we hope this is the first step in expanding the child tax credit to include unborn children [fetuses] as well.”
Think about the absurdity of Mancini’s statement and consider that the so-called right to life cabal, with religious Republican assistance, wants to give tax-sheltered savings accounts and taxpayer-funded “child tax credits” to zygotes, embryos, and fetuses. Not because they care anything about life, but because they care about controlling women; a concern Republicans are happy to accommodate and advance through tax legislation.
No doubt House Republicans will offer a tax credit for zygotes if it will further set in stone that the federal government of the most technologically advanced nation on Earth considers a zygote a living breathing human being.
March for Life’s president of its political arm, Tom McClusky, said he was surprised Republicans were stealthy enough to sneak “personhood” language into tax reform legislation about college and private religious school savings plans. He said:
“We’re thrilled about it, but it wasn’t something that we were specifically calling for. We’ll fight to make sure it stays in there.”
The evangelicals and personhood movement will face opposition from women’s reproductive rights advocates such as NARAL, Pro-Choice America. A spokeswoman for the group said something they’ve said often since the Trump and preacher Pence administration began its evangelical assault on women in earnest.
“The GOP's relentless obsession with advancing its dangerous anti-choice ideology knows no boundaries and no common sense. Inserting 'personhood' language into their tax bill is just the latest example of how they're trying to turn back the clock on this country."
And Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) said:
“This is a back-door attempt to establish personhood from the moment of conception. What’s next, giving a Social Security number to a zygote?”
The devious Republican maneuver to establish “personhood” on a zygote eliminates Coverdell Education Savings Accounts that allow families to put aside up to $2,000 for college savings accounts for living breathing children. Instead, religious Republicans are expanding 529 savings accounts for in utero beings to cover up to $10,000 per year for private and religious school costs.
The pro-choice movement is rightly concerned that bestowing personhood on a zygote is a “back-door” attempt to abolish Roe v. Wade, but they should be just as worried that contraception is next on the chopping block; it is banned right there in the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae defining “personhood” as the “moment of conception.”.
That same document that prohibits abortions also prohibits any form of birth control that is “artificial;” only the “rhythm method” is considered “natural” and Vatican approved. By declaring a zygote, or the “moment of conception,” a living breathing human being, Republicans are setting the stage to ban contraception because it prevents the “moment of conception” and is tantamount to abortion.
Remember, the idea of preventing the formation of a zygote, which is how contraceptives work on a very basic level, is what the Vatican considers abortion. That was the premise Hobby Lobby’s owners proffered when they went before the United States Supreme Court to argue that no matter what human biology or medical science says, birth control is abortion. Although the Justices acknowledged the veracity of medical science and biology, they ruled that if Hobby Lobby’s evangelical owners deeply held religious belief says birth control is abortion, then birth control is abortion. It is why Hobby Lobby won its case and why women’s advocates, and opinion column writers, went ballistic warning it was the first concrete step in banning women’s choice completely.
If anyone doesn’t believe that is the Republicans’ goal, just last week in Wisconsin Democrats attempted to add an amendment to another state-level Republican assault on women’s reproductive rights. That amendment simply called on Republicans to ensure that the evangelical legislation would not prohibit women from using contraceptives; Republicans rejected the amendment out of hand. Remember, according to the Vatican, all contraceptives are regarded as “artificial” forms of birth control and are banned. For dog’s sake, even the Muslim religion doesn’t ban any “artificial” form of birth control; they do not want the religion’s adherents mired in poverty as a result of more children than a family can comfortably support.
It is curious that women, and the men who claim to care about them, are not in the streets demanding an immediate halt to these religious Republican attacks on women’s rights. Nearly every two weeks there is a new attack on women’s reproductive rights and except for a few advocacy groups complaining about “Republicans’ obsession” with women’s reproductive rights, there is relative silence. If pro-choice groups, and Democrats, would cite the real source of this war on women, male-dominated religion, it is likely the people would react. But no-one is willing to tell the people that their wives, sisters, mothers and daughters are under an assault from an extremist religious sect; and it is not Islam.
Women have a bleak future in store when Republicans finally win the war on women, and at this point it appears they are winning. America is still a vicious patriarchal society and the easiest way for Republican men to keep women out of politics, out of the workforce, and without a voice is keeping them stuck at home in a perpetual state of pregnancy and childbirth. That is what will happen when Republicans succeed in eliminating women’s right to self-determination and at the rate this administration is going, it will be sooner rather than later. The travesty is that it happened while the people were laser focused on Trump’s tweets and not America succumbing to a bloodless coup d’état by evangelicals serving the needs of the Vatican.