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Whose Rights = Location, Identity, and Ideology

May 7, 2022 0 comments

In 2021, Arizona Republican Governor Ducey awarded personhood to fetuses, embryos, and fertilized eggs, granting them the same “rights and privileges” as “other persons” from conception.

The law has the potential to criminalize a wide range of behaviors that can endanger a fetus, such as gynecological care, contraception, hormone therapy, cancer screening and treatment, substance abuse treatment, a plethora of medications prescribed for debilitating diseases, speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, bulimia, anorexia, jogging, falling down….

Whether child support payments begin at conception is not addressed in the law and has yet to be determined in Arizona.

However, the law does not allow fertilized embryos in the womb to attain sufficient “personhood” status to be counted in the next Census – neither as a 3/5 person nor any other category.

The law also does not grant “personhood” to fertilized eggs found in infertility clinics because, in 2018, the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature became the first state to classify fertilized eggs outside of a womb as property, awarding “custody” rights of frozen embryos to the spouse who intends to develop the embryo “to birth” after the divorce.

Any agreements executed by the parties prior to or during the infertility clinic process are void under the law. While it overrides the donor’s objections to having their sperm or egg used without their consent, the law states that the objecting donor “has no parental duty… and no right, obligation, or interest in” the child. Objecting donors are also not required to pay child support.

While voting for a bill that limits parental rights for LGBTQ children, Rep. Teresa Martinez (R-Casa Grande) ironically announced, “Children belong to their parents, and their parents are responsible for the morality that they chose for their child.”

Translation: A fertilized egg inside a womb is equal to any adult, but a fertilized egg outside a womb, like a child, is the property of the person wanting to be a parent, unless the parent(s) are “the wrong type.”

In 2021, state legislatures set an alarming record of 108 abortion restrictions enacted in 19 states and 2022 is shaping up to be even more devastating for abortion rights and access. Through April 14 of this year, the total number of sexual and reproductive health rights provisions introduced in 42 states and the District of Columbia was 536, with 33 enacted in 9 states — Arizona (2), Florida (1), Idaho (1), Indiana (2), Kentucky (19), Oklahoma (1), South Dakota (5), West Virginia (1) and Wyoming (1).

Justice Alito’s draft opinion to end 49 years of women’s autonomy of choice also argues that courts should reject rights not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

Alito appears to be laying the groundwork for a case that might reverse eight years of same-sex marriage.

The number of anti-LGBTQ bills submitted each year has increased from 41 in 2018 to 238 in less than three months of 2022. And this year’s high tally comes on the heels of what some groups called the “worst year in recent history for LGBTQ state legislative attacks,” in which 191 bills were proposed in 2021.

The papercut pattern of the Republican anti-LGBTQ and anti-Abortion agendas is clear.

The “it will never happencrowd can kindly take a seat.

Women have been having abortions since the beginning of time, Roe V Wade simply made the medical procedure safe.

While Roe left people opposed to abortion free to choose not to have one; overturning it permits states to prevent those wanting abortions from having one.

Republicans in Congress are already working on a nationwide 6-week abortion ban with few to no exceptions for rape, incest, or maternal health, contending that the 15-week pregnancy restriction that might overturn Roe v Wade is simply not ambitious enough.

To achieve their goal and obtain a Congressional supermajority, Republicans would have to give up small government, local control, state rights, individual liberty, and even privacy.

The true fear, however, is that such a law would subject millions of pregnant individuals to surveillance, criminalization, bad faith prosecution, and the health risks of pregnancy.

While birth control pills, emergency contraception, and IUDs are not abortifacients under accepted medical and legal standards, Kelly Townsend (R-Mesa) and others have argued for more than a decade that birth control pills and IUDs are forms of abortion and should be completely forbidden.

Republicans have also claimed that access to birth control is a gateway drug to abortion and that contraception should also be banned.

Muslim-majority countries, which everyone loves to point to as examples of female oppression, permit contraception. In Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia oral contraceptives, the intrauterine device (IUD), male condoms, and injectable contraceptives are legally available without a prescription. Both religious clerics and the government approve of the use of contraception that prevents the production of the zygote and implantation in the uterus.

Even the most symbolic Muslim countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia leave abortion decisions to individuals and those they want to consult and are more lenient on abortion than some U.S. states.

It’s worth noting, however, that in response to the negative impact low birth rates and changing migration/immigration patterns are having on population growth and future labor force projections, some governments, including the West, are suspending free birth control and female sterilization programs, as well as limiting access to contraception and abortion.

I’m reminded of the 1857 Dred Scott case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were “property” and hence could not be taken from their owners without due process and that individuals of African descent had no rights as citizens.

In the 21st Century U.S., women are still subject to public and politician vetoes for birth control, abortion, tubal ligation, sexuality, and even dress.

I’m concerned that those with a uterus are becoming state property and losing their citizenship rights, not in foreign countries, but in the United States.

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