• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

June 19, 2013

Womb Wars

What you need to know about the next big abortion fight — the debate over "personhood."

Share

Photo Credit: Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Special Offer

It's the mother of all abortion battles: The "personhood" movement, which aims to define embryos as people with legal rights, is gaining ground across the country. Opponents say women's reproductive rights are at stake, with personhood moving well beyond abortion into areas such as infertility treatments and birth control.

In Kansas, the governor recently signed a sweeping bill of abortion restrictions that includes personhood language. In North Dakota, lawmakers agreed to let voters decide in 2014 whether the state constitution should assert that life begins at fertilization, as personhood advocates believe. At press time, activists in Mississippi were collecting signatures to put a personhood amendment on the state ballot; this year, a total of 13 states have introduced bills or ballot initiatives that would legally declare embryos people.

Abortion rights advocates are alarmed. Giving "full constitutional rights to a fertilized egg" would "invite the government into every aspect of reproduction," says Eric Ferrero, vice president of communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Not only would virtually all abortions be banned, personhood critics say, but infertility treatments resulting in the destruction of embryos (such as IVF) could be, too, as could birth control methods that stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. (The FDA says the morning-after pill and the copper IUD can prevent implantation; some scientists hotly contest that the morning-after pill does so.)

Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, a nonprofit that organizes activists, dismisses critics' claims as "scare tactics." Most birth control would not be affected, he says, and infertility treatments wouldn't be banned but "modified to be respectful of life and to ensure that embryos aren't discarded." The bottom line, he says, is that life begins when egg meets sperm, the moment "your hair, eye color, and height are determined."

President Barack Obama recently jumped into the fray as well. Speaking at a Planned Parenthood conference in late April, he referred to personhood initiatives as "absurd" and "an assault on women's rights." Mason says he wants to thank the president for that. "Obviously we're touching a nerve. He understands that we're a threat."


Share
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $188) and a year’s supply of hair products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $108).

One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $188) and a year’s supply of hair products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $108).

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From News & Features
The Abortion Situation In Ireland Keeps Getting Worse

The latest: a woman is forced to undergo a c-section 25 weeks into her pregnancy—17 weeks after she first attempted to get an abortion.

Meet the 20 Women Who Are Changing Your World

In honor of our 20th anniversary, we are celebrating 20 movers, shakers, mavericks, and badasses who are boldly, bravely, audaciously blazing new paths for women and girls

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue