Infertility: Abortion, Morality, and Personhood Laws

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The great state of Nebraska is moving forward with a Personhood Bill. Personhood Acts are mostly created to give rights to human beings at the earliest time possible, oftentimes this is considered to be conception. It is generally considered and anti-abortion bill. I do not want to argue for or against in any way shape or form abortion. I think that is a battle where people do not hear opposing views because they are too entrenched in their own opinion to hear ANY opposing opinion. Ascension Health defines Personhood below:

“A socially constructed moral category that denotes the inclusion criteria and salient characteristics that distinguish human beings from other forms of life, thus specifying the individuals to whom we owe particular moral obligations, i.e., those obligations we have to others due to their status as persons. In general, there are two ways of defining personhood. Philosophically, personhood is generally defined by some list of essential properties by which we recognize a human being as a person. Though these lists vary, they often include such characteristics as consciousness, the ability to reason, self-movement, self-awareness and a capacity to communicate. The second way of defining personhood is more theologically oriented and entails some relational interpretation of what it means to be a person. In this sense, personhood is often conceived of in terms of one’s ability to have relationships with other human beings and the special relationship human beings have with God.”

It is important to have a commonly accepted definition of Personhood because these laws could have a profound affect on infertile couples ability to move forward with medically assisted conception. If Doctors feel threatened with being arrested for trying to create life because of Personhood laws then many couples will be left without any options in the dream to have children. Since 1979 there have been a couple million children born, including my own, with the assistance of fertility treatments.

I am not a lawyer but from being a police officer for many years I do know that one of the keys components of a law against a person is the word “intent”. I have argued intent in court many times and it can be a slippery slope proving it. If you turn around too quickly and accidentally push your neighbor to the ground it is not assault but if in a heated moment with that same neighbor you willfully shove them to the ground you have displayed intent and therefore assaulted them. Personhood Acts will refer to any medical treatment where there is intent to cause harm to a living being. Keep in mind the law may say the moment of conception. So is it possible that in the course of an IVF treatment if a life, as defined by the law, is lost that there could be a liability for the doctor? It is an unfortunate fact that it is common to lose embryos in the process of medically assisted conception and if those embryos are defined as “life with Personhood rights” will the doctor need to defend his or her intent? Lawsuits are kryptonite to medical practices. If the medical field is forced to defend the practice of assisted conception then the likelihood is that the practice will be as extinct as a Triceratops. These laws may tell us that the word intent protects Medical Procedures for the purpose to create life but I am certain someone would soon challenge the practices on a moral basis.

I can understand the moral issues behind abortion due to the fact that it revolves around the sanctity of life. Again I will not state my opinion but since abortion stirs such strong feelings with faith-based moralist I am concerned that in a political battle politicians will use fear based tactics to move their base to pass a Ballot that could have horrible collateral damage to the infertile community. I plea with everyone to fully understand Personhood Bills and Ballots so that good people do not lose the chance to be be parents.

If you have fertility issues or know someone who does I strongly suggest you stay abreast of what your states stance is on Personhood and speak out if the need comes. Resolve.ORG has a page that better explains the concerns of Personhood Laws. The link is listed below. As always I wish you the best on your journey and because I remember how my wife and I felt I will always support the community that I am still part of.

http://www.resolve.org/about/personhood-legislation.html

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