What is the role of personality in the abortion debate?

The concept of “personhood” has come under debate since the US Supreme Court struck down the federal right to abortion. Some states have passed laws or constitutional amendments to introduce the standard, and abortion advocates have pushed for similar changes elsewhere.

But the distinction between personhood laws and other abortion restrictions is sometimes poorly understood. Abortion rights advocates say the personalization laws could have far-reaching consequences, barring in vitro fertilization or killing women who face abortion charges. Proponents of personhood argue that declaring that all human beings, including those in the womb, have rights provides important moral clarity and that conceptual changes are desirable.

Here’s a look at the issue:

What does personhood mean?

In his 1973 Roe v. In the Wade decision granting the right to abortion nationwide, a majority of the US Supreme Court found that “the word `person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.”

Some anti-abortion advocates say this is false, arguing that personhood includes fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses that should be considered persons with inherent rights.

Those who advocate this standard of personhood want to end all abortions, and reject laws that prohibit abortions in cases of rape or rape, or fetuses with genetic abnormalities. Permissive carvings included.

And the impact of personal laws can be felt beyond the regulation of abortion. They can restrict in-vitro fertilization, criminalize women who terminate pregnancies or engage in behavior harmful to the fetus, and even limit fetal child support, tax benefits and other benefits. Can also give rights.

Opponents say the personhood standard is unconstitutional because of its broad and uncertain effects, and argue that it puts people at risk of prosecution for any number of crimes.

“Because the personhood provision fails to provide adequate notice of the prohibited conduct and invites arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement against plaintiffs and their patients, it is unconstitutionally vague,” lawyers who challenged the Arizona law said. Challenged, written.

How many states have these laws?

Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas and Missouri all have personal laws.

Georgia’s law is perhaps the most far-reaching, granting specific rights including tax exemptions and child support to unborn children. It took effect on July 20 after a federal appeals court ruled in his favor. A federal court has put Arizona’s law on hold, at least for now.

Kansas’ 2013 law has had little practical effect since 2019, when the state Supreme Court declared abortion a fundamental right in the state. Kansans will vote Tuesday on whether to amend the state constitution to overturn the decision and allow state lawmakers to ban or ban abortions.

In 2018, Alabama voters adopted a state constitutional amendment to ensure “the protection of the rights of the unborn child.” The 2019 Abortion Ban Act referenced the amendment, but did not repeat the personhood standard.

Voters in several other states have rejected state constitutional amendments granting individual status, including in Colorado in 2008, 2010 and 2014, Mississippi in 2011, and North Dakota in 2014.

What makes a personal law different from a ban on abortion?

About a decade ago, the anti-abortion movement was divided. Some saw the figure as unworkable, especially as electoral and legislative defeats began to pile up. But proponents of personification argued that these other abortion opponents lacked the moral clarity.

“The big difference between the personhood movement and the anti-abortion movement is that the personhood movement protects all innocent human lives and deserves equal protection under the law. And that includes every human life in the world, ” said Rickado Davis, president of Georgia Right to Life. The National Right to Life Committee severed ties with Georgia Right to Life in 2014 after it opposed bills that would have restricted abortion but allowed exceptions for rape and rape.

Still, the broad influence of personhood is evident in a wave of bills in states that ban abortions once a “detectable human heartbeat” is present, usually around six weeks. Such words were partly inspired by the idea that people could accept the heart’s activity as a moment of being alive, even though the heart was not fully developed at that time.

Does this mean that an abortion will lead to a murder trial?

Supporters of the laws say they envision prosecuting only abortion providers who provide illegal procedures. For example, Georgia has a criminal statute that makes illegal abortions punishable by up to 10 years in prison. But opponents worry that prosecutors could bring murder charges against abortion providers and women, that women could be at criminal risk if they have abortions, and that those who seek someone from the state will face criminal charges. Those who facilitate outside abortions may also face legal action.

“If you’re a person, and you’re aborted as a fetus, they’re going to define it as murder. Or they could possibly define it as murder,” Duke University. Law School Lecturer Julian Dellinger said.

The standard of personhood already affects laws that allow people to be prosecuted for killing a pregnant woman for the death of the fetus and its mother. At least 25 states already classify drug use during pregnancy as child abuse or neglect, according to a 2019 study by Dr. Laura Faherty, a researcher and professor of pediatrics at Boston University. . The National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which supports abortion rights, reported 1,331 arrests or detentions of women for crimes related to their pregnancies from 2006 to 2020.

“I think fetal personhood is an issue of controlling women and pregnant people and not trusting them or allowing them to make decisions about their bodies and their fetuses,” said Rebecca Clochan, a professor at California State University, Sacramento. goes.” History of abortion.

What are some other possible personal consequences?

A Texas woman gained attention after the Supreme Court ruled that she could drive in a high-occupancy vehicle lane that requires two people in the vehicle because she was 34 weeks pregnant.

Abortion rights advocates have repeatedly expressed concern that personhood laws could undermine in vitro fertilization by giving rights to embryos created and then frozen. Georgia law sidesteps this issue by giving rights only to the fetus in the womb. But if more than one embryo is implanted, Georgia law may require the woman to give birth to more than one child, experts warn. Abortion rights advocates argue that Alabama’s amendment does not explain how its personhood standard affects issues other than abortion, and that in vitro fertilization is not affected. .

Georgia law says a woman can receive child support during pregnancy, up to her medical and other pregnancy-related expenses. It also allows her to claim an unborn child as a dependent on the state’s income tax, though the state has not yet clarified how that would work. The law also states that unborn children must be counted in the state’s population when the state government makes the determination based on the number of residents, even though the federal government conducts the census.

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