Ladies, it’s about your personal health • Celia Murray
Last election day, voters in the Republican primary were asked if they agree with the “personhood” question: Should the constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the paramount right to life is vested in each innocent human being from his or her earliest biological beginning without regard to age, race, sex, health, function or condition of dependency?
As reported by the Morgan County Citizen, roughly two-thirds of local voters (2,163 of 3,308) who answered the question voted “yes.” No doubt, members of the “pro-life” movement took heart.
A personhood amendment is an extreme measure – so extreme that, once voters understood what was at stake, a similar personhood ballot initiative was soundly defeated last year in socially conservative Mississippi. This measure is so outside the mainstream that in Mississippi, even the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the General Conference of the United Methodist Church opposed it.
A personhood amendment is an outrageous assault on women. If it became law, not only would it make all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, illegal, a personhood amendment would make effective in-vitro fertilization nearly impossible. Since the embryos created by in vitro would be defined as persons, they couldn’t be frozen, thereby potentially “murdering” them. The IUD and the birth control pill would be illegal because they prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterine wall, again, “murdering" them. A woman who suffered a miscarriage would be subject to investigation for murder. Doctors and hospitals might hesitate to provide appropriate medical care for a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy.
Mitt Romney has shown occasional support for a constitutional amendment saying life begins at conception though his position has been hard to nail down. Now there can be no doubt. Despite Romney's efforts to court women voters, he chose a running mate who is far outside the mainstream on women's health issues.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) cosponsored a federal personhood bill and voted to defund federal family planning programs. Ryan authored a budget that dismantles Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, all of which disproportionately aid and employ women, and voted multiple times to prevent women in the military from using their own money to pay for abortions at military hospitals. He also supported a highly controversial bill which would have allowed hospitals to refuse to provide a woman emergency abortion care, even if her life is on the line.
Women’s rights groups, from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund to Emily’s List, have expressed alarm at Romney’s pick. All women, and those who care about women, should be highly concerned.
Celia Murray is a member of the Morgan County Democratic Committee.
Printed in the August 23, 2012 edition