Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meanwhile, in North Dakota

The State House has voted to give a fertilized egg personhood rights. The Senate has not yet voted on that, and in any case the law would not take effect as long as Roe is the law of the land.

But once Roe falls, the women of North Dakota become the outermost doll in a set of Russian dolls, and the dolls inside her are persons now, too. She might be empty of such dolls, true, but there's no way of knowing that. Just imagine a woman drinking, say, and someone then suggesting that she might be pregnant, giving alcohol to a minor. Off she'd go to be tested. You'd probably have to have regular pregnancy tests for all women who drink or smoke or participate in a lot of sports or work in occupations which might harm an embryonic person should one happen to live inside some of those women. It's not hard to imagine that all this would get so cumbersome that it would just be easier to ban all fertile women from anything that might hurt an embryo.

Now I'm sure you think that I exaggerate, and I do in the sense of imagining the worst possible outcomes this proposed law would allow. But there's nothing in the personhood proposal that would protect women from such actions if the personhood of an embryo is taken to equal the personhood of a woman.

Somehow I suspect that many of those voting for this law regard the personhood of the embryo as higher than that of its female container. After all, the embryo might be male and when it would be born it would be a person with full human rights!