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Does Ron Paul Believe That Abortion Policy Should be Left to the States?

[ 152 ] August 26, 2011 |

Of course not.

To amplify Matt’s response to Althouse’s silly dodging and weaving about Paul merely wanting to “divert[] the matter to the state courts,” let’s consider the content of the federal abortion bill Paul has repeatedly introduced. Among other things, the bill states that:

(1) the Congress declares that–

(A) human life shall be deemed to exist from conception, without regard to race, sex, age, health, defect, or condition of dependency; and

(B) the term ‘person’ shall include all human life as defined in subparagraph (A); and

(2) the Congress recognizes that each State has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State.

States have already have laws banning homicide, and if fetuses are “persons” under the equal protection clause (whose core purpose is to prevent states from denying the protection of generally applicable laws to classes of persons) all 50 states would be required to prosecute all abortions not necessary to save a woman’s life as first degree murder. Perhaps some state courts would try to argue that the complete exclusion of this federally defined class of “persons” can survive strict scrutiny, but presumably this isn’t Paul’s intent or preferred position.  Far from leaving the abortion issue to “the states,” the intended effect of the Sanctity of Life Act is to create a national abortion code that would apply severe criminal sanctions to women who obtain abortions. The bill empowers state courts in the sense that it strips jurisdiction from federal courts, but state courts would be working under federal law that seeks to criminalize abortion.

As Matt implies, the best defense you can make for the claim that Paul just wants to return abortion to the states and doesn’t want women to be subject to criminal sanctions is that he’s a manipulator and hypocrite who pretends to want the federal government to nationalize fetal personhood but really considers the bill he supports a symbolic nullity. Admittedly, Republican abortion politics is replete with exactly this kind of cynicism, but in Paul’s case there’s reason to actually take his stated positions seriously. And if you do, it’s pretty clear that he wants all American women to face severe criminal sanctions if they obtain abortions.  And, certainly, Paul — like virtually all anti-choice Republicans — has never believed that abortion policy should be “left to the states.”

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  1. Not just abortions. Wouldn’t Paul’s rule turn cleaning out the freezer at the fertility clinic into an act of genocide?

  2. Malaclypse says:

    I would assume that all miscarriages would need to be documented, with a cause of death?

  3. Deggjr says:

    Ron Paul is the limited government guy, right?

    Great question from the past: “Why does it happen that every time you get the chance to make a decision that demonstrates your commitment to a principle, you make the opposite decision?”

    Rhetorical question, I already know the answer.

    • wengler says:

      Like everyone in the Propertarian Party, Mr. Paul is for the government being limited only in its ability to protect non-property owning rights.

      In the Propetarian state, your stuff has the rights and your rights are derived from your attachment to it.

      Also women are not people.

      • David Hunt says:

        “Also women are not people.”

        Well, they are until they emerge from their mothers’ bodies. After that, they demonstrate the summation a friend of mine once made of the “Pro-Life” movement: The Right to Life ends at birth.

    • Mikey says:

      I’m not clear on this. I’d like to ask the question for real.
      How does this not violate the first commandment of Libertarianism: “Thou shalt mind your own business”?
      And if it does violate that commandment, what’s the point of Ron Paul doing so? In other words, why would a guy who made his reputation by opposing wars and drug laws — that is, taken “principled” (he would say) positions in contravention to the party line — introduce something like this? Is he pandering?
      If he is, why would he diminish his brand by doing what Bachmann, McCain, Romney and every other conventional politician already do?
      Maybe I don’t know anything about the guy, but from what I thought I knew, this seems self destructive to me.

      • Malaclypse says:

        How does this not violate the first commandment of Libertarianism: “Thou shalt mind your own business”?

        The first commandment of liberalism is that any entity can enter into any contract with any other willing entity.

        The first corollary of that commandment is that there are no inalienable rights.

    • Randy Owens says:

      Yeah, once upon a time, when I was young and foolish and didn’t know any better (but I repeat myself), I considered myself a Libertarian, and a big part of the reason for that was because there was obviously no way its platform could allow for compromise, let alone elimination, of a woman’s right to choose, right? Shows just how young and foolish I was.

  4. Robert Farley says:

    Scott,

    If you’re not going to say something nice about Ron Paul, you should just ignore him. That way it’s easier for people to whine that he’s being ignored.

    • Uncle Kvetch says:

      If you’re not going to say something nice about Ron Paul, you should just ignore him. That way it’s easier for people to whine that he’s being ignored.

      I was going to say the exact same thing, only with respect to Althouse, not Ron Paul. The last thing this place — or anyplace, for that matter — needs is another bunch of her “fans” dropping by…something any number of other bloggers can attest to.

  5. Warren Terra says:

    If you ignore the federal law Ron Paul has repeatedly introduced, Constitutional law professor Ann Althouse is absolutely right when you describe Paul’s ideas about the Constitution and the scope of federal law.

    Or, to use an actual Internet Meme: your contrary facts are central to her point.

  6. thebewilderness says:

    Conception: The union of the sperm and the ovum. Synonymous with fertilization.

    This law would define contraception that prevents implantation as an abortion, and anyone who uses it as a murderer. I’m sure he would be happy to leave the penalties for the crime of failure to produce human resources up to the states.

  7. Randy Owens says:

    One of the first things to pop into my head while reading this was a vision of the future, some 50 years from now, with the teabaggers’ descendants demanding to see the long-form conception certificate.

  8. Sherri says:

    Since the definition of life in this bill would be placing into law a religious definition of life, and not a universal religious definition of life, why wouldn’t such a law be contrary to the First Amendment? Other than the fact that we have 5 Catholic judges on the Court who would uphold it? Just wondering.

    • Anonymous says:

      How is this definition of life more “religious” than another?

      There are lots of way to attack the pro-forced-birth, but I don’t think that what they claim to believe is internally inconsistent.

      • DrDick says:

        Because it has no scientific basis. Scientific/medical definitions, while variable, limit the notion of “life” to somewhere between fetal viability (the ability to survive outside the womb) at about 26 weeks to after birth.

  9. R Johnston says:

    Ron Paul would, in effect, make it illegal for any woman who has sex to do anything that knowingly increases the chances of miscarriage. He’d essentially turn women into chattel.

    Of course anyone who ever believed Paul was a libertarian rather than a white supremacist, classist, sexist, xenophobic malcontent who wants to disempower the federal government solely to stop it from getting in the way of enforcing his prejudices wasn’t ever paying attention to Ron Paul.

  10. Shygetz says:

    If Ron Paul’s bill were ever to become law, would all women have to undergo pregnancy tests as part of the US Census?

  11. p j says:

    Ron Paul is another of the many who have lost their minds over this issue. Like most libertarians, he wants less government until he wants more.

    And where is the money going to come from at the state level since he and his ilk hate to raise taxes?

  12. DrDick says:

    Like most Libertarian politicians, Paul is just another closet authoritarian who dislikes any restrictions on his actions, but wants to control everything about yours.

    • Aaron says:

      I think this is unfair. The idealized libertarian position is that government intervention into their citizens’ lives can only be justified to protect negative liberty rights like freedom from coercion and freedom of expression (this is why they support the existence of a military, legal system, and police force). Killing is just such an interference with negative liberty. If I was avowedly convinced that fetuses are persons and deserve rights, it would certainly be compatible with a libertarian perspective to make abortions illegal.

      I am not a libertarian (I believe the negative/positive rights distinction is problematic, and in the importance of positive rights), I am not so convinced, and even if I were, I think it is also possible to consistently believe that the right of the woman to bodily autonomy trumps the rights of the fetus. However, I don’t think we get anywhere by always accusing our ideological opponents of acting in bad faith. (Principle of charity, people). Calling someone out for dishonesty should be a last resort, not a first one.

      • Holden Pattern says:

        You know, I would generally agree, but I’m always fascinated by the extent to which the people who promulgate conservative policies (in which category I include Paulibertarianism) (a) aren’t the people burdened by those policies, and (b) hotly deny the plainly-intended consequences of those policies (as distinguished from the slippery slope could someday be maybe if a whole bunch of other stuff happens consequences).

        So when Paulibertarianism is so plainly either a lie or cruel beyond belief, what charity exactly should be shown? “Stupid” would be the most charitable thing you can say about that people who advocate the Paulibertarianism or any of the various dominonist or anarchocapitalist policies that pass for policy among the conservative members of our ruling classes. If you don’t assume that they’re stupid, you’re pretty much left with “cruel liars”.

        • Holden Pattern says:

          dominonist or anarchocapitalist “policies” s/b “fantasies”

        • Aaron says:

          I think charitable is meant in the argumentative sense – find a somewhat reasonable way to make their argument make sense, assuming it isn’t totally incoherent (I think even the PoC would give short shrift to a Palin, for example). You don’t have to automatically assume they’re not cruel, because even reasonable people can be cruel. If the most reasonable interpretation of their statement has bad implications, well, propose it to them and see if they accept it! If they duck the question, then you’re probably dealing with bad faith. If they clarify, so much the better!

          • Holden Pattern says:

            And how many times do you do that? Because when you’ve heard the same cruel policy over and over again, and the same lies about what it would do, when it’s so plainly INTENDED to do something cruel, at a certain point I don’t think you have to assume the proponents are acting in good faith, even without doing the charitable interpretation routine.

            People in the real world aren’t professors — we are not dealing with naïve young people who are making stupid arguments because they don’t know any better. And yet, every time a conservative troll shows up in comments somewhere (not you, that’s not what you’re doing at all) and says “why are you mocking me? I’ve never been here before!” they’re demanding that we go through the assumption of good faith routine, when it’s almost never the case that the assumption is warranted.

            • Mark says:

              In my experience, it is quite efficient to assume that all conservatives are terrified authoritarian sadists. I suppose once in a while you’ll run into one who retains a bit of basic decency, but so what? They’re still doing the work of the mad 99%.

              • Aaron says:

                While I think Holden has a point, you’re obviously exaggerating here.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I used to be a liberal, but now that Mark has exaggerated on the internet, I support Rick Perry for President.

                • Aaron says:

                  We ought not exaggerate the shortcomings of those who oppose us because it makes it harder to be aware of our own shortcomings.

                  When you turn every political dispute into an existential conflict between the Good Guys and the Stupid and Possibly Evil, you get the first steps of epistemic closure.

                  Of course, that’s not to say that there aren’t Stupid and Possibly Evil People out there. Jonah Goldberg comes to mind.

            • Anonymous says:

              The point is not that you “owe” the pro-life a charitable interpretation, it is that being charitable gives more strength to your denunciation.

              It is all well and good to congratulate ourselves about how we support women’s rights to their bodies, and how those who do not are the scum of the Earth, but really, the important thing is to convince people who are undecided or who really believe that these rights are less important than those of a fetus. In this perspective, you can either call your audience evil and stupid, or put in some effort to understand what they believe, and point to where you don’t agree with what they say. One way works way better than the other.

          • DrDick says:

            Except that Paul also racist and has staked out other clearly authoritarian positions as well. He has voided all rights to charitable interpretations.

      • thebewilderness says:

        It isn’t unfair at all. The idealized libertarian position has nothing to do with the clearly authoritarian behavior of politicians who claim to be libertarians.

        He was an OB/Gyn. He knows perfectly well that he is lying. He knows that 13% of pregnancies are ectopic and must be ended or both the woman and the fetus will die. He knows perfectly well that over 50% of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortions.
        Further, he knows that passing this law, his law, would make most contraception illegal. That is the goal.

      • ema says:

        However, I don’t think we get anywhere by always accusing our ideological opponents of acting in bad faith.

        This bill is the very definition of bad faith. It postulates a bunch of nonsense — “human life” (as opposed to what, sperm and egg plant life?); “from conception” (a non-discrete event); “person” (placentas, cancers, embryos, who can tell them apart?); “unborn children” (a meaningless term) — and uses it as a justification for women of reproductive age becoming wards of the state.

        • Aaron says:

          I think “People disagree with me about the definition of life ERGO BAD FAITH” is pretty much exactly what I’m trying to warn against. The question “at what life-stage does a human life begin to have value” is something reasonable people can differ about.

          • Xenos says:

            The question “at what life-stage does a human life begin to have value” is something reasonable people can differ about.

            Not really.

            Or at least, the boundaries of reasonableness do not include ‘conception’, or any other moment or process before pregnancy begins.

          • Briefly, and for the sake of this debate only, let’s allow that this is a reasonable opinion.

            Paul isn’t content to hold this opinion or express this opinion. He wants to make his opinion into a law that would severely impinge the rights of citizens into law.

          • DrDick says:

            Paul’s definition, however, is religiously, not scientifically, defined and codifying it in law is a violation of the First Amendment. This is a violation of those “negative liberty rights” mentioned above (freedom from religion).

          • ema says:

            And “People say stuff/come up with bills about abortion ERGO VALID ARGUMENTS worthy of due consideration” is what I’m pointing out.

            Like, for example, in your comment. You simply assume your question is valid. No need to define “human life” and “value” and show relevance when it comes to a woman and one of her internal organs.

          • thebewilderness says:

            This bill defines a fertilized egg as an unborn child.
            Further, it states: …each State has the authority to protect lives of unborn children residing in the jurisdiction of that State.

            CHILD PROTECTION LAW
            Act 238 of 1975
            AN ACT to require the reporting of child abuse and neglect by certain persons; to permit the reporting of
            child abuse and neglect by all persons; to provide for the protection of children who are abused or neglected;
            to authorize limited detainment in protective custody; to authorize medical examinations; to prescribe the
            powers and duties of the state department of social services to prevent child abuse and neglect; to prescribe
            certain powers and duties of local law enforcement agencies; to safeguard and enhance the welfare of children
            and preserve family life; to provide for the appointment of legal counsel; to provide for the abrogation of
            privileged communications; to provide civil and criminal immunity for certain persons; to provide rules of
            evidence in certain cases; to provide for confidentiality of records; to provide for the expungement of certain
            records; to prescribe penalties; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts.

            A state’s child protection laws would apply to every fertilized egg in that state whether it is in another person or a petrie dish.

            • ema says:

              to permit the reporting of
              child abuse and neglect by all persons

              No need for training, accountability, or a reality-based way to spot those roaming fertilized eggs. The F(ertilized)E(gg)D(etective) brigade is on the case.

              to provide for the protection of children who are abused or neglected

              Protect the woman’s internal organs and cavities from herself…

              to authorize limited detainment in protective custody

              …by arresting her because said organs and cavities are her.

              to authorize medical examinations

              Consent, what consent? Probed and prodded at the government’s and FED’s discretion!

              to prescribe the
              powers and duties of the state department of social services to prevent child abuse and neglect;

              The FED strangers, together with the bureaucrats at the department of social services and the

              to prescribe certain powers and duties of local law enforcement agencies; to safeguard and enhance the welfare of children and preserve family life;

              OvarianTuboUterine SWAT Inspection Unit own you.

              to provide for the appointment of legal counsel;

              Step 1: Spend government funds to pay lawyers for services rendered to fertilized eggs. Step 2: ? Step 3: Limited government!

              to provide for the abrogation of privileged communications;

              Women Objects have no need for privileged communications.

              • Anonymous says:

                Excellent wording. I was an all out Ron Paul fan…until a couple days ago when I discovered this inconsistency. I’m disappointed that we again will not have any worthwhile candidates to vote for. I’m sad for America.

  13. So would this mean we’d all have to change our birthdays to the nine months before we were born? I hope not because I like being a Libra.

    And what would this do for the citizenship of people who were conceived (or likely conceived) in another country?

    And are zygotes tax deductible?

    Jesus.

    Keep in mind this deranged stoat of a man is an Ob/Gyn. My sympathies to his patients.

    • Jack Davis says:


      So would this mean we’d all have to change our birthdays to the nine months before we were born? I hope not because I like being a Libra.”

      That is a great line. I wish I had seen it the last time I debated abortion with my Republican roommate.

      • Your birthday is day you were born, not the day you became a person. There’s a wide variety of laws which already recognize the personhood of the unborn. Inheritance laws are one such category. The question about changing birthday may have a snappy feel to it, but it’s nothing more than a ‘straw man’ argument.

        • ema says:

          Can you please define “personhood”?

          • Hi Ema – Personhood is a noun, describing the condition of being a person. My Webster’s lists personhood, but within the definition of person. It does have separate entries for state and statehood, and the relationship between those two terms is the same as the relationship between person and personhood. One of the candidates I endorsed in 2010 was Joe Bell of Illinois. Here’s excerpt from introduction to a law review article he wrote which discusses the definition of person and personhood:

            Defining personhood has always been difficult, but it has never lacked an element of the ethereal. The term “person” comes to us from the Latin “persona,” meaning a mask, or one who wears a mask, as an actor would.1 In ordinary conversation, the term “person” most often refers to a human individual, with no distinction between the mask and the actor. However, from a legal perspective, a “person” is only the mask, a composite of “legal rights and duties,”2 worn by some unknown and otherwise unimportant actor, to represent a character in the story of legal history. With such an ambiguous actor at its core, the law of personhood has evolved slowly and haphazardly into a patchwork quilt of categories used to make pragmatic and sometimes contradictory decisions about the mask and its actor, whether state, private, or otherwise.3

            Ref: Joseph S. Bell, “SCHIAVO’S RIGHT TO REFUSE FOOD AND WATER: ASCENDANCY OF THE ARTIFICIAL NATURAL PERSON”, Liberty University Law Review, 2:193-241, 2007 — http://law.liberty.edu/media/1190/lawreview/V2N1-Bell%20-%20Comment.pdf

            • DrDick says:

              Which in no way addresses ema’s request and does nothing to define the parameters and criteria for personhood.

              • thebewilderness says:

                I’m so shocked!

              • I thought pointing her to Webster’s was appropriate answer to her question, and thought anyone interested in the definition would appreciate the link to Joe Bell’s excellent article. I wasn’t using personhood in any nonstandard way. What additional parameters or criteria are needed to answer the question of whether these littlest human individuals are, uh, human individuals?

                • DrDick says:

                  How do you define who or what is or is not a “person”. What are the criteria for making that determination. Your dictionary definition of personhood is essentially tautological and does not address this. It is not a simple and straight forward question and the answers vary through time and from one culture to another.

            • ema says:

              So, to be clear, you are defining “personhood” as a legal term, a noun, describing the condition of an unknown and otherwise unimportant, and ambiguous something being a composite of legal rights and duties.

              In which case, personhood does not apply to products of conception (POC) since POC lack the required legal duties part of the composite.

              • Hi Ema –

                I agree with Webster’s definition of person as being a human individual. It’s not merely a legal term.

                I previously referred to the Roe v Wade opinion’s conclusion that if the fetus is a person, then the provision in 5th and 14th Amendments — that no person shall be deprived of life without due process — applies to him or her. So I disagree with you if you’re saying that “person” is an unimportant concept.

                I would be opposed to allowing abortion under color of law even if our Constitution was not so clear about protecting persons from being deprived of their life without due process. I’m grateful to our founders for including that provision in 5th Amendment. I think it implements well the principle underlying the statement in the Declaration of Independence about the self evident Truth that all men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, including the right to life.

                I do not share your notion about POC and duties.

                • DrDick says:

                  In that case, I strongly recommend that you personally never have an abortion. On the other hand you have no basis for imposing your essentially theological view on the the rest of us, who do in fact agree with ema’s (scientifically accurate) position.

                • ema says:

                  I agree with Webster’s definition of person as being a human individual.

                  By chance, is Webster’s definition of human individual as being a person?

                  So I disagree with you if you’re saying that “person” is an unimportant concept.

                  What I said about “person” is that, based on your definition (via Joe Bell of Illinois) of it — a “person” is … a composite of “legal rights and duties” — it doesn’t apply to POC for the obvious reason.

                  I would be opposed to allowing abortion under color of law even if our Constitution was not so clear about protecting persons from being deprived of their life without due process.

                  You are aware that our Constitution is clear about protecting pregnant women from being deprived of their life, yet you oppose legal abortion? This position doesn’t make sense.

                  I think it implements well the principle underlying the statement in the Declaration of Independence about the self evident Truth that all men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, including the right to life.

                  Relevance?

                  I do not share your notion about POC and duties.

                  You mean you don’t share Joe Bell’s notion.

                • DrDick says:

                  “Personhood” is a legal and social category, differently defined by various cultures, entailing the assignment of particular rights and duties. Not all humans are necessarily “persons”. Indeed, at the heart of the institution of slavery is the existence of human nonpersons who exist as chattel property. There can also be partial persons. In the US until emancipation, women were not full persons, not having control of many aspects of their lives. Even today, children are not full persons in this sense.

  14. Anonymous says:

    /delurk I have been attempting to articulate this for a while, the prior comments definitely helped. I’d appreciate feedback on whether this is a good point or not:

    The Right to Life ends at birth.

    He’d essentially turn women into chattel.

    Under this abortion bill, an unborn female will possess rights that an adult female will be denied. An unborn male will have no change in the right to bodily autonomy or self-determination after birth. All females, upon birth, would become a subclass of citizen with limited rights.

    A female is born with all the eggs she will ever have, none are produced after birth. Even though the female may not be physically capable of carrying a child, the egg can still be fertilized (the youngest 2 pregnancies on record were only six years old.)
    So, a female’s right to life and autonomy would indeed end at birth.

    The more I look at this, the more stark it seems. Ron Paul – rights for me but not for thee.

  15. thebewilderness says:

    This law would be an even bigger boon to the prison industrial complex than the war on drugs has been.
    I suppose if Ron Paul ended the war on drugs he would have to provide for the states to fill their high profit prisons with the real criminals. Women who shirk their responsibility to produce human resources.

  16. If the fetus is a person, of course the protections of the 5th and 14th Amendments, against depriving any person of his or her life without due process, apply. That’s clearly stated in the Roe v Wade opinion (and it is one of the few personhood-related statements in the opinion with which I agree). Is the fetus a person? Well, we know through DNA that the fetus is a human individual from the very earliest stage of his or her biological development. So, I think the science is clear that yes, the fetus is a person. Those who want to claim that a person is something other than a human individual have some serious explaining to do. The Supreme Court is just as wrong on personhood in Roe v Wade as it was in the Dred Scott case.

    As to Ron Paul, it is clear that yes, despite his conclusion that the fetus is a person, he does not think that the federal government has the power to do anything to protect the life of any fetus if the state allows him or her to be aborted. I’ve come to call Ron Paul’s position “Pro-choice for states”.

    It seems to me that defending the unalienable right to life would be at the top of any libertarian’s agenda, if he or she agrees that the fetus is a person.

    • DrDick says:

      If it cannot survive outside the womb, it is not a person, but a parasitic growth on the mother’s uterus.

      • I’ve read about “snowflake children” — they were able to survive outside the womb just fine. Your “If it can’t survive outside the womb” criteria sounds like the type of reasoning that has led to wholesale slaughter of many groupings of people over the years. And your “parasitic” description has the same history, BTW.

        • thebewilderness says:

          Snowflake babies are the result of successful gestation of a surgically implanted fertilized egg in a woman’s uterus.
          The failure rate in IVF is enormous. This law would make each failure a crime.

          • Hi thebewilderness – I’ve read that a third of the embryos created by IVF do not survive the freezing. I don’t know that every failure would be considered murder. For example, we allow nuclear medicine procedures to be used even though our regulatory bodies presume that some patients will die from their exposure to radiation. But radiologists follow the ALARA philosophy (which includes keeping the dose as low as is reasonably achievable). If personhood of the littlest human individuals were recognized, I suspect that fertility doctors involved in IVF may well stop the practice of creating so many “extra” embryos, as a way of better respecting the unalienable right to life.

            • thebewilderness says:

              If your “littlest human individual” could survive as individuals they would not need to be implanted in another human being. When the implantation failed and the “littlest human individual” died the human being and the doctor would be charged with murder or child abuse in any state that chose to do so. Just as women are currently being charged with murder when they experience a spontaneous abortion.
              We do not permit nuclear medicine procedures to be used without the individuals consent. Your “littlest human individual” would be the victim of murder because they did not agree to the medical procedure imposed on them.

        • DrDick says:

          I was in fact not referring to fetal cells, but to other sorts of cell cultures (lung, muscle, neural, etc.) which are maintained by biologists and medical researchers for research purposes. Seems to me that you are revealing a rather profound ignorance of actual science.

          • But I didn’t take your previous comment about cell cultures to be about fetal cells. Was it my comment about snowflake babies here that you interpret as a response to your cell culture post? If so, that may be the source of your error. My mention of snowflake babies was in response to your “can’t survive outside the womb” comment.

            • DocAmazing says:

              If by “snowflake babies” you mean embryos gotten by in-vitro fertilization and frozen, that can hardly be called “surviving outside the womb”; these embryos show no signs of life (assimilation of nutrients, for example, or respiration) and would rapidly decompose if allowed to approach room temperature.

              Go work with a team that provides therapy and assistance to 26-week gestational age premies and their families and then come tell us about survival outside the womb.

              • DrDick says:

                My youngest grandson was born about two months premature and barely survived after spending most of his first year and a good part of his second in emergency rooms and intensive care. During that time he had more surgeries than most people have by 80 years. He survived and is doing pretty well, but has cerebral palsy as a consequence.

            • DrDick says:

              My previous comment is was out of place. Sadly we have no delete button here.

    • DrDick says:

      Also by your logic, human cell cultures in laboratory petri dishes aer persons.

      • Malaclypse says:

        My toenail clippings are also human. I’m gonna have a lot of little tax deductions should this law get passed.

      • No. My logic applies to human individuals. I don’t know of any reason to consider a cell culture or toenail or hair to be an individual. Why do you suggest otherwise?

        • Malaclypse says:

          I don’t know of any reason to consider a cell culture or toenail or hair to be an individual.

          I don’t know of any reason to consider a fetus a person, either. Glad we agree that reasonable people can disagree, and should therefore mind their own fucking business.

          • Are there any other groups of individual humans that you think ought to be deprived of their life without due process? There’s lots of good things about what I’ve come to call “America’s Principles”, but the most important one is the principle that we are endowed with rights by our Creator, rather than by our fellow citizens or by our government. I had the chance to meet the Dad of a victim of the Columbine shootings. He got involved in personhood movement because he concluded that abortion under the color of law has been instrumental in creating a culture of death in America. He was one of the founders of American Right to Life. Their website is a great place for folks to learn about personhood matters.

            • DocAmazing says:

              You’re talking in circles.

              The notion that unique DNA confers personhood has been shot to bits by the example of tumors, which have DNA that differs from that of the host, and so by your logic should be considered as persons and protected from excision and chemotherapy.

              Repetition of cliches about the death culture of the US (as though thise were brought about by available abortions, and not, say, having founded the nation on land cleared by genocide) does not sell your case very well.

        • thebewilderness says:

          Steve, your logic is not logical.
          You want to apply personhood to every fertilized egg. Millions of fertilized eggs die a natural death every month.
          It is a part of the biological process of reproduction that not all fertilized eggs implant, and even when they do implant they are often flushed within a few weeks.
          Passing a personhood law that provides protection to fertilized eggs makes no sense. It is declaring it to be a crime for a woman’s body to function the way it was designed to function.
          To what purpose? So that women who do not want to carry a pregnancy to term will be forced to do so, under penalty of law, you are willing to criminalize a perfectly normal bodily function.
          Nonsense!

          • Hi thebewilderness – Recognizing the personhood of every human individual from the beginning of their biological development until their death would not make natural death a crime. Why do you imagine otherwise?

            The phrase “fertilized egg” is a propagandistic choice, wholly lacking in scientific value. See link to Carnegie Institute “Stage 1″ document at http://americanrtl.org/egg

            • DocAmazing says:

              Actually, if you read what your own article links to, the objection is to the use of the non-technical term “egg” rather than the more specific “oocyte”.

              In deference to Mr. Schulin, I suggest that we now use the phrase “fertilized oocyte” instead.

              Problem solved.

            • herr doktor bimler says:

              The phrase “fertilized egg” is a propagandistic choice, wholly lacking in scientific value.

              How much will you pay me if I can produce a paper from Nature or Science that uses this term? Because I don’t know about you, but that would fit my operational definition of “having scientific value”.

        • T. Paine says:

          Funny how your logic doesn’t apply to female individuals. It’s almost as if “libertarians” don’t believe women are rights-bearing individuals!

        • DrDick says:

          “we know through DNA that the fetus is a human individual from the very earliest stage of his or her biological development”

          This statement also applies to everything we have listed since every cell in the human body contains all of the genes for that individual.

          • You could use a cell to create a clone. That doesn’t make the cell a human individual before the cloning, however.

            • herr doktor bimler says:

              DrDick’s point is that “the potential to grow into an adult human” cannot be the criterion for “personhood”, since it is a quality of any stem cell. Your response suggests that you have some other criterion in mind that allows you to place a cloned human child on the “person” side of the fence. On one side: A blastocyte in a test-tube. On the other side: A clump of HeLa cells in a test-tube.

              Why not just explain what the criterion is, rather than appealing to DNA as an authority in bioethics?

              • DocAmazing says:

                Well, the HeLa cells originally came from a dusky swarthy heavily-pigmented person, Henrietta Lacks (about whom an excellent book was written). Some folks would consider that factor in their ethical calculations…

  17. ema says:

    Well, we know through DNA that the fetus is a human individual from the very earliest stage of his or her biological development.

    Well, clearly you think you know. Care to explain it to the rest of us?

    • DrDick says:

      The mythical sky fairy told him.

      • Malaclypse says:

        The mythical sky fairy told him.

        The mythical sky fairy is a heresy. True knowledge is found in the teachings of the invisible sky wizard. I’m sorry, but you must now be burnt at the stake, heretic.

    • “Simply stated, we are all in a virtually seamless process of growth and development; and we are each truly unique, possessing individually-specific DNA – and personhood.” – W.A. Krotoski, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., Medical Director – U.S. Public Health Service (Ret), in his testimony to Louisiana state House committee considering a personhood bill — http://americanrtl.org/LA-2011-Personhood-HB645

      • herr doktor bimler says:

        You seem to be supporting your opinion (that genetic individuality confers personhood) by referring us to someone else’s opinion.

        The fact that Krotoski separately enumerates “individually-specific DNA – and personhood” is perhaps a hint that they are different concepts.

      • ema says:

        Well, we know through DNA that the fetus is a human individual from the very earliest stage of his or her biological development. So, I think the science is clear that yes, the fetus is a person.

        You said *science*, as opposed to some guy regaling some politicians with his odd personal opinions, is clear that, through DNA, the fetus is “a human individual”/”person”.

        So what’s the scientific explanation? [Hint: This is a trick question.]

        • Hi ema – The science is straightforward: (1) The baby’s DNA, from the earliest stage of his or her development, is identifiable as human DNA. (2) The baby’s DNA is different than the mother’s DNA.

          • herr doktor bimler says:

            This is science, but there is a missing stage… what the feck does this have to do with “personhood”? I mean, if it were so obvious that a 8-cell blastula is a person, this should be the case even if in the absence of our current knowledge of genetics. It is a piss-poor ethical stance that only becomes true when progress in genetics reaches a certain point.

            To put it another way, consider the corollary that clones are not people and are fair game as sources of organ transplant.

          • ema says:

            Science is clear that yes, the fetus is a person because: (1) The baby’s DNA, from the earliest stage of … development, is identifiable as human DNA. and (2) The baby’s DNA is different than the mother’s DNA.

            Come on, be serious. Science is not some sort of magic word. You don’t just throw it out there, cross your fingers, and hope it makes your statements true.

            All DNA in the body, at all stages, is identifiable as human DNA. And, as has been pointed out repeatedly, placentas, cancers, etc. have DNA that is different than the woman’s DNA.

  18. thebewilderness says:

    What we know is that a fertilized egg is a cluster of cells with the potential, through biological processes, to develop into a human individual. Part of that biological process would be implantation into the lining of a womans uterus.

    In some states they have charged women with murder for miscarriages. This law would criminalize any perfectly normal menstruation that flushes a fertilized egg. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/jul2011/misc-j06.shtml

  19. thebewilderness says:

    Also, that word, individual, does not mean what you think it means.

    • DrDick says:

      I think that is true of most words.

    • Holden Pattern says:

      ‘To be sure I was!’ Humpty Dumpty said gaily as she turned it round for him. ‘I thought it looked a little queer. As I was saying, that seems to be done right — though I haven’t time to look it over thoroughly just now — and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents —’

      ‘Certainly,’ said Alice.

      ‘And only one for birthday presents, you know. There’s glory for you!’

      ‘I don’t know what you mean by “glory”,’ Alice said.

      Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘Of course you don’t — till I tell you. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

      ‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

      ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

      ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

      ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

      Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

      ‘Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, ‘what that means?’

      ‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. ‘I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

      ‘That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

      ‘When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘I always pay it extra.’

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      A cancer is genetically different from its host, but its individuality does not confer personhood upon it.

  20. herr doktor bimler says:

    And are we to conclude that identical twins (not to mention laboratory clones) lack personhood because their DNA is not unique?

  21. thebewilderness says:

    Mr Schulin,
    The phrase “fertilized egg” is a propagandistic choice, wholly lacking in scientific value.

    You who have been calling an egg a baby and a “littlest human individual” have the gall to claim that other people’s word choices, which are far more accurate than your own, are propagandistic!

    Someone is catapulting the propaganda here, and doing a very poor job of it.
    That would be you.

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