There are very few things in the world of reproductive rights that annoy me more than the concept of “fetal personhood.” The potential implications this could have if it becomes a legal reality are astounding. Beyond outlawing abortion, this could also limit birth control options, in vitro fertilization options and stem cell research. These potential consequences terrify me for the women who live in states that are attempting to make it a reality.
These consequences are abominable in themselves, but what really bothers me about “fetal personhood” is that it automatically removes personhood from the pregnant person. With “fetal personhood” a reality, the pregnant person is no longer a person. That the breathing, thinking, feeling pregnant person’s wants and needs are rendered completely irrelevant is beyond appalling to me.
That is why I am always happy to see them fail. Recently Personhood Arkansas filed amendment language with the state that would define “personhood” as beginning; you guessed it, at fertilization. Luckily Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel knows nonsense when he sees it. McDaniel cited the ambiguity of the measure as the primary reason for rejecting it.
According to Arkansas News he said “the text was misleading as to the relationship between the measure and federal law.” A specific aspect they mention is the title: “the ballot title makes no mention that the measure would prohibit the use of public funds for abortion except when the mother’s life is in danger and would authorize the Legislature to prohibit abortion under any circumstances to the extent permitted under the U.S. Constitution… McDaniel said the measure failed to acknowledge that its adoption would directly flout controlling law by the U.S. Supreme Court that a state law purporting to ban abortion at any stage of gestation except to save the life of the mother cannot pass constitutional muster.”
According to Digital Journal, Personhood Arkansas is planning to edit the amendment and then re-file it with as many of the recommendations as possible. They are also apparently preparing a lawsuit for the anticipated second rejection. Of course they are. Because it would be ridiculous to actually understand that women are people too, not just uterus bearers. Given the lack of approval personhood has received in the other states that have attempted it, it seems unlikely the attempt in Arkansas will be any more successful. I am grateful for that, but the fact that people are even trying to make it happen just makes me sad.