Just when you thought personhood legislation had quietly limped away in 2012, it’s come back with a vengeance in 2013.
There are two important legislative stories that have emerged over the course of today that I need to get you up to speed on… and then I need to talk about just why they are so tremendously fucked up.
North Dakota Senate Passes Personhood Legislation
Yup. You read that right. At 1pm today, the North Dakota Senate passed SB 2303. This bill is an attempt to clarify some IVF regulations mentioned in SB 2302 and those regulations – which have now passed in the Senate and move on to the House – have disastrous implications for the infertility community of North Dakota, both for patients and practitioners.
Firstly, its sister bill, SB 2302, made headlines by attempting to regulate the maximum number of embryos that could be transferred at once. While the ASRM already has embryo transfer guidelines in place, the North Dakotan legislature took it upon themselves to further regulate those guidelines with absolutely zero medical basis. Oh, and trying to regulate that no embryos can be frozen, effectively wiping out any North Dakotan cancer patient’s chance at fertility preservation. Thankfully, SB 2302 failed two weeks ago.
Enter: SB 2303. As of 1pm today, the North Dakota Senate just voted this into existence:
“Human being” means an individual member of the species homo sapiens at every stage of development.
So… legal rights have just been granted to 8-cell blastocysts. Which would effectively make it impossible to practice IVF in the state of North Dakota. It’s not yet law; it still has to go through the House and then get signed by the Governor. That said, knocking down 1 target in a line of only 3 steps to law (well, 3.5 if you count vetos) is too close for comfort.
And just when I thought things couldn’t get any more fucked up, I read this little gem.
Arizona Wants to Track Every Human Embryo… and Make it Public Knowledge
I really can’t explain that any more simply. Arizona’s SB 1376 – drafted by a lobbying group adamantly opposed to any and all assisted reproductive technologies – would require all fertility clinics in the state to track, collect and report data on every single human embryo created and then publish that information publicly.
RH Reality Check sums it up thusly (emphasis mine):
“…this newer bill seeks to capture and make publicly available information on the disposition of every embryo created in the process of in-vitro fertilization, and the results of every treatment involving ART. The information required is largely redundant to the statistics and information submitted to the CDC, most of which is publicly available.”
This is bad news for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s requiring clinics to collect the same information twice and submit it to both state and federal regulatory bodies – and much of this is also submitted to SART, the professional arm of the ASRM. (Smaller government says what?) Except that it also starts to dig way deeper into patient privacy by seeking the collection of information, including:
- the number of embryos deemed not viable for transfer or preservation and used for training
- the number of embryos donated to another individual for transfer
- the number of selective reductions performed, broken down by number of embryos transferred before the reduction
- the percentage of selective reductions resulting in miscarriage
RH Reality Check has the full proposed absurd list of data collection points here.
I hope that somehow, someway this time sticks in the minds of those who seek to demonize infertility patients and the treatments to which we have a fundamental right.
The “Pro-Life, Pro-Family” Agenda of Personhood Legislation is a Lie.
Despite what they’d have you believe, personhood legislation is anything BUT pro-life or pro-family.
Personhood legislation isn’t about G-d or miracles or precious little babies waiting to be born. Personhood legislation is about a deeply conservative anti-family, anti-choice agenda that seeks to undermine and overturn women’s legally granted rights to govern their own reproductive health. I can’t put it any more plainly.
I am continually baffled by women who not only support this kind of legislation but actually propose it because it impacts them, their daughters, their sisters and every other woman they know.
But here’s what really gets my knickers in a knot.
Personhood legislation doesn’t promote family values, it prevents families. It prevents people like me, people like you who read and comment on this blog, and the 7.3 million other people in this country whose reproductive organs biologically reject the heteronormative missionary-style perfectly-timed-intercourse coupling of how babies “should” be made – from being able to have families of our own on our terms.
Personhood legislation doesn’t save all the unborn children, it prevents them from ever being conceived in the first place. Personhood legislation seeks to punish us for biological realities for which we have no control.
I find it infuriating that groups like Personhood USA push a “pro-life, pro-family agenda” when they’re really trying to evangelize a single religious view – theirs – of “G-d given rights” for every American… despite every American’s Constitutional right to religious diversity and plurality. By trying to grant personhood status to embryos and even eggs, personhood advocates dehumanize infertility patients and practitioners in the process.
That makes about as much sense as the murderers who think they’re justified in killing doctors who perform abortions – in the name of life.
I’m calling out the personhood movement on their great big lie. Personhood advocates seek to champion “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for all “pre-born” Americans. Guess what? That’s a lie.
What they’re really trying to peddle is the notion that all peoples’ rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are equal but some peoples’ rights to those same values are more equal than others.
Namely, the rights of “pre-born” Americans over the rights of 7.3 million very real, breathing, walking, talking Americans living right now with infertility.
To support personhood is to support a baffling contradiction of beliefs and actions.
To support personhood is to deny me and you and 7.3 million other Americans living with infertility – people living with a disease – our right to build our families with medical treatment to which we are entitled.
Personhood USA is committed to “protecting every child by love and by law.”
Except the children that infertility patients so desperately want to have.
Except the children who are created in perhaps some of the most medically miraculous ways, ways that bridge science and G-d.
Except the children like my son, whose kicks and somersaults in my womb remind me every second just how hard-won he is, just how loved and wanted he is.
Because if the personhood movement had their way, my son would have never been created in the first place.
And if you think you’ve seen me fight for this community, just try and stand in between me and my child and watch what happens.
Good. You should be.
Now go do something about it.
Live in North Dakota or Arizona? Contact your State Senators and Representatives.
Pissed off about groups like Personhood USA? Send your dollars to RESOLVE’s Center for Infertility Justice instead.
Don’t just sit here and be horrified. Do something.
Fight like the family you so desperately want and are entitled to have depends on it.
[Edited to add: Some folks have expressed concern that I'm passing judgment on people who are pro-life or conservative. Let me clarify: I'm not. I'm merely stating the known fact that personhood legislation is largely being orchestrated by a very vocal, very well-funded arm of the pro-life conservative movement. This is not a judgment, but a statement of fact.]