Despite being rebuffed by voters in Mississippi and Colorado, proponents of the “personhood” movement are still pushing to enact legislation in states like Ohio and Oklahoma that would give zygotes the same rights as American citizens. These bills would not only criminalize abortion in all circumstances, they would also outlaw common forms of contraception, as well as in vitro fertilization.
State Senator Constance Johnson of Oklahoma City has served Oklahoma’s 48th Senate District since 2005, but it was yesterday’s introduction of Senate Bill 1433 that really pushed her over the edge. The bill sought to define human life as beginning at the moment of conception, before it’s even implanted in the womb, and offers full legal protection to those tiny multicelled lumps. In the words of the bill, “the unborn child at every stage of development (has) all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
Johnson submitted an amendment of her own to the bill, which would have added the language,
However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.
Among other things, Johnson’s amendment would essentially outlaw oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation. Were it not a satirical bill, it would almost certainly be deemed unconstitutional.
To prove that her amendment was in jest, Johnson voted with her colleagues to table it later in the day. But it does illustrate a serious point: only about half of fertilized eggs develop into a pregnancy. If Republican lawmakers are willing to declare every cluster of cells with the potential to become a fetus a person, why stop at fertilized eggs? Why not sperm as well?
To protest the inherent sexism of the personhood bill, another Democratic senator attempted to add an amendment that would require the father of the child to be financially responsible for the mother’s health care, housing, and other expenses while she is pregnant.