No, that is not a real headline. This has not happened. At least not in the context of which you are about to read. However, if you want some really interesting info on the subject, read this. Regarding the above headline, was I being intentionally misleading? Yes, obviously. Why? Because it wouldn’t be so far-fetched, considering parts of the Republicans official party platform. Could it be that I am just being paranoid? No, not really. Why? Because I can read. I often extrapolate all manner of possibilities based on past and present statements made by some of the ridiculous, retrograde, repugnant Republicans. It’s not that hard, really, given their general attitude toward women, their fundamentalist religious beliefs, their willful ignorance and their voting record.
The Republican Party Platform states many things that, to me, are deplorable. One of those statements that stands out as particularly deplorable is their position on abortion with regard to the United States Constitution. Hence,
“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
Let’s examine this a little closer. First, we’ll take a look at the first sentence, which refers to the Declaration of Independence.
“Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”
What they are referring to is the part of the Declaration that states,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
This it part of the Declaration where the historical revisionists or just plain ignorant love to use when they shout from the mountaintops that the United States is a Christian Nation. Mainly because of use of the words “created” and “Creator.” I can tell you with great certainty that even back in colonial times, there were members of our fledgling nation, including those in positions of power, who were not Christians. There were, as there are today, a wide variety of beliefs and those who didn’t believe.
Some Declarative Facts…
The wording of the Declaration was very specific to these ends. An individual’s perception of what it means to be created or what constitutes a creator are vastly different, which is why you will not find a reference to Jesus, Mohammed or any other character that is indigenous to any one specific religion, or any religion at all. I am under no delusion that I am here, alive on planet Earth, because some god decided to mold me together out of something. My creators were Mr. and Mrs. Stefanelli, who created me by virtue of a sexual union that resulted in a combination of their DNA. My substance is that of the same substance that everything in the universe shares.
Besides, we are not governed by the Declaration of Independence, no matter how many times or how loudly the religious right quote from it. We are governed by the Constitution, which is a secular document and very purposely begins with “We the people” and of equal purpose does not contain any mention of God or Christianity. Its only references to religion are exclusionary.
The purpose of the Declaration were for the purposes of addressing such things as the benefits of trial by jury, for taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms government without any input from the people. It was about the Crown suspending its own legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate in all cases whatsoever. It was about the ability of the Monarchy to wage war on it’s own citizens and, without reservation, to plunder our seas, ravage our coasts, burn our towns, and destroy the lives of our ancestors without any judicial or legislative regulation.
But instead of recognizing the Declaration of Independence as an important document stating our insistence to individual freedom and a government of the people, by the people and for the people, it has been relegated by the religious right as a weapon to promote their desire to bring the United States back to a form of government that is almost identical to the one we originally fought so hard to be free of. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.
The sole purpose of the Declaration was to “dissolve the political bands”, not to set up a religious nation. Its authority is based on the idea that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” which is contrary to the biblical concept of the Theocracy that the religious right would impose upon us.
The second sentence of the GOP Platform:
“We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”
Obviously, this addresses the Fourteenth Amendment. I can only assume that the GOP is referring to Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. Possibly section 2, but that would be a reach – even for them. Section 3 deals with insurrectionists and those giving aid to our enemies not being able to hold public office. I’ve actually heard the more delusional members of the Tea Party refer to President Obama as an insurrectionist who is giving such aid to our enemies, thus not being qualified to hold office. That, however, is fodder for another day. Section 4 just states that Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of the Amendment.
Thus, I shall address Section 1 and how the proposed “human life amendment” can fit in.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
This is the truly dangerous part of their statement. It would basically grant citizenship to a fetus without the benefit of a birth certificate, which I find ironic considering how many “Birthers” hold public office. Refer back, if you will, to the woven and tangled web. There are so many problems with this, that it is mind-boggling. First, they would have to change the wording of the Amendment itself. Until such a time that an actual birth occurs, there can be no designation of either “born” or “naturalized.” Because it is impossible to establish an across-the-board viability date for all pregnancies, the only choice they would have would to start at the moment of conception.
However, this is problematic because there exists no definitive for pinpointing an exact moment of conception, nor at what stage of development viability occurs. So, basically, they would actually have to build in a “buffer period” sometime before conception actually took place. Sound crazy? Before you start laughing, you should read about Arizona bill H.B. 2036. While ultimately halted, it would have declared a women pregnant two weeks before conception. Basically it calculates gestational age as calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman. So, it was already thrown out there.
The Rights Of One…
Because a fetus does not have the ability to exist independently from its mother until it reaches viability, it cannot be considered a person with all the rights and responsibilities of someone who has been born, and definitely not anyone who has been naturalized. If we were to grant the same rights to a fetus as we do to the already born, it would automatically subjugate the rights of the woman. This would give the fetus greater rights than the woman carrying it.
At this point, anything can happen. Given the fundamentally religious mindset and the almost complete lack of scientific knowledge of many who are in positions to set policy, it is not difficult to imagine all manner of legislative clusterfucks that could ensue. How much of a stretch would it then be for the State to start hiring lawyers to represent unborn fetuses for civil rights violations by mothers? Imagine further if said behavior could potentially harm the fetus. Harkening back to my intentionally misleading headline, what would then prevent the State from bringing criminal charges against a mother for a miscarriage or stillbirth?
I know many of you are thinking that this is a bit of a reach, but consider that until such a time when a fetus can survive outside of the mother’s body, whatever agency was given jurisdiction over a fetus would need to have complete control and supervision over the body of the mother. If said agency deems that a mother has acted in such a way that has been deemed illegal, the State would have to act. If the actions or behavior of the mother caused a complication in a pregnancy that would bring about anything other than a healthy baby at birth, the mother could be legally liable for any number of civil charges. If the mother’s actions or behavior resulted in a miscarriage or stillbirth, then criminal charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter to premeditated murder could be levied.
It is forensically possible to determine the cause of a medically unassisted terminated pregnancy during the later stages of a pregnancy. However, how would it be determined the cause of a miscarried pregnancy during the very early stages of pregnancy? The religious right loves to say that “life begins at conception.” This is actually true, but not in the way they believe. More on that, shortly. The fact is, a majority of conceptions do not make it to term. In one of many studies, researchers used hCG tests throughout the menstrual cycles of women. These tests are highly sensitive, and through these trials, researchers found evidence that roughly 22% of all conceptions did not implant. Of those that did, about 31% ended in miscarriage.
So, who would make the determination whether or not a miscarriage is a chargeable offense? What would determine the levity of the charges? What would be considered a civil violation and what would be a criminal offense? Truth be told, the only way to determine this would be through a whole set of laws, statutes and regulations that would, by default, have to be almost completely based on morality. Guess whose morality? As well, at what point do you hold the mother liable? Was she a drug user or alcoholic before she found out she was pregnant, but her body was already in such a condition that it could not sustain a pregnancy? If so, could she still be charged? How would the behavior of a woman of child-bearing age be regulated? Would there be a microchip involved? Security cameras? Morality police?
You want to go a little deeper down the rabbit hole? How about, upon a victory by the prosecution against a woman for causing her pregnancy to be terminated, the jury was allowed to return a verdict that included the forfeiture to the State of all property, monies and other assets belonging to the woman? States that have joint and several liability laws would mean that the father of the child could also be held civilly liable as well, and his assets be taken as well. Yeah, I know, the last few paragraphs are scenarios that you might read within the pages of one of those post-apocalyptic novels or some cheesy science fiction move. But it’s only fiction until it happens. If you read the Abrahamic Holy Books, there’s plenty of batshit crazy weaved within the pages, and there are enough biblical literalists walking to and fro on the earth to give my tin-foil hat scenarios a hint of credibility.
Some Sciency Stuff…
For those of you are interested, here’s a brief rundown of what happens during the first two months of a pregnancy. It’s actually fascinating within the scope of evolutionary theory, and while “life” certainly does begin at conception, we should examine what “life” means from a biological point of view, albeit in its most basic terms. We’ll start at the same point which the religious do. Conception. At this time, the life form is called a zygote and it begins its journey by dividing into two identical cells, called blastomeres. They continue to subdivide once every twelve to twenty hours. When it reaches sixteen cells it becomes known as a morula, which usually occurs after three days gestation.
A couple of days later a cavity appears in its center and it is now called a blastocyst, which contain an inner group of cells that will eventually become the fetus and an outer group that will form the placenta. At about twelve days or so after conception, the blastocyst starts to produce hormones that are detectable in urine. It is at this point where most physicians define the start of pregnancy. It should be noted that a vast majority of zygotes never make it this far.
At about two weeks along, what is known as a ‘primitive streak‘ appears. This will later develop into the central nervous system. The zygote is now referred to as an embryo. It is still an extremely small cluster of undifferentiated tissue. After another week of development, the embryo is about the size of pen point and looks a lot like a worm. At four weeks, it looks like a tadpole, complete with gill-like structures, which is normal given our evolutionary beginnings. By seven weeks, the embryo has lost its tail, which is another point of reference to our evolutionary ancestry.
The higher functions of the brain have yet to develop, and there are no pathways to transfer pain signals. In fact, even at two months along, the embryo does not appear to be fully human. It has a reptilian brain and has not yet developed the capacity for consciousness. It is not yet sentient and is not defined as a fetus until the tenth week, at which time it is about three inches long and weighs about an ounce. Basically, the GOP platform would give the same rights and privileges that natural-born and naturalized citizens have not just to a fetus, but also to a zygote, blastocyst and embryo – virtually indistinguishable from many other life forms.
But what about the soul? Well, I don’t believe in a soul. However, the belief that the “soul” is infused at the moment of conception brings to light the fascinating and common occurrence of some multiple birth scenarios. Twins, for example. In cases of identical twins, the zygote divides into two embryos somewhere between three and thirteen days after conception. So, what, does the soul split, as well? And what about splits that occur after this stage? They result in conjoined, or Siamese, twins. Do twins share a soul, then, kind of like bunk beds?
Back To The Fourteenth…
Earlier I alluded to Section 2 of the Amendment, and how it would be a reach even for the GOP to refer to it with regard to the “human life amendment.” So, while we are still wearing our tin-foil hats, so to speak, further humor me.
“Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.”
We shouldn’t consider the part about being involved in the participation of rebellion or other crime, as this would be inherently difficult on the part of the yet-to-be-born. However, for purposes that involve a plethora of criteria, population demographics are extremely important. If the unborn are given fourteenth amendment status as citizens, will they be counted in a census? If so, how, given the rate of naturally miscarried pregnancies? The fact that politicians in Arizona had already put for consideration a bill that pre-dates a pregnancy to the first day of the last menstrual cycle, would the average “2.5” children be automatically added to every woman of child-bearing age?
The Real Problem…
Yes, you’ve been reading some pretty harebrained (but not impossible) scenarios that had been rolling around in my head regarding the GOP’s “human life amendment.” Consider this quote,
“Anything may happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation.” ― Virginia Woolf
The real problem here is the abrogation of the rights of women. Nary a day goes by when we don’t hear about legislation that is presented for the sole purpose of men telling women what they can do with their vagina’s. When to have sex, who to have sex with, why to have sex, when to have babies, who to have babies with, what to wear on their bodies, how to speak in the presence of a man, what may be inserted in their vagina’s by whom and for what purpose and the contribution women make to their own rapes and sexual assaults.
The list goes on, and it is getting worse. There seems to be no end to the lengths at which rich, white (mostly), Republican, fundamental Christian men will go to continue their efforts to subjugate women in the United States. What these men are doing is tantamount to legislative rape. The way that the religious right treats women is horrible, and they should be ashamed of themselves. But they aren’t, because they are immoral and unethical. They are cold, uncaring and delusional people who have no concept of anything even remotely connected to compassion.
To those who make it their life’s work to infringe on the rights of women, not only in the arena of reproduction, but in the areas of equality in the sexual, economic and social arenas, are bigoted and discriminatory. They exhibit meddlesome religious immaturity and outright disdain and hatred of women. This is made clear every time they open their mouths and vomit their words out into the air.
These people don’t deserve to lead a kennel of dogs, let alone a human beings. In fact, that would be an insult to dogs. I have no respect for them. Not because I am an atheist, but because they don’t deserve it.