Dear Anti-Abortion Folks,
I know many of you are probably thinking, after reading my last entry, “Why should I care if Rep. Campfield wants to issue death certificates to aborted fetuses? Those are lives and anything that will make those women realize that they’re killing a human being is fine with me. Plus, I’m never going to have an abortion, so I don’t care.”
Listen, I know we fundamentally disagree. You believe that life, and therefore personhood, begins at conception. I believe, at conception, we see the stirrings of life and that, throughout a woman’s pregnancy, over time, a person is brought into being. Yes, I believe there is another life in a pregnant woman’s uterus, but, until it emerges alive into the world, it’s not a person, just the potential for one.
And I know those positions seem so diametrically opposed and that, often, my side seems so heartless and cruel, that you doubt we could have any common ground.
I ask you to consider this. It is constitutionally impossible for the Tennessee State Legislature to declare some occupants of women’s uteruses people and not others. They cannot, under the equal protection clause, say that these beings are people, but these beings in the exact same circumstances are not. If you are a legal person from the moment you stir to life as two cells joined into one, you’re a legal person. Campfield cannot declare only medically aborted fetuses people.
Now, we both know that this is an effort to chip away at abortion rights. If you anti-abortion folks can get the law to recognize all forms of human life as legal people, you can, presumably, outlaw abortion because it would then be murder.
But consider this. If the deliberate ending of a pregnancy through abortion becomes murder, all endings of pregnancies will be open for legal scrutiny. Not just “will be” but will have to be. If I’m driving a car and I deliberately run you over, I can be charged with murder; but if I’m just driving along and I drop my cell phone and I reach down to pick it up and I hit you and accidentally kill you; I can still be charged with a crime.
Here’s what I’m asking you to consider. Almost all of us will miscarry at some point in our lives. Most often, it happens so early in a pregnancy that we don’t even know we’re pregnant. But, sadly, it happens all too frequently to women who desperately want children.
I think we can both agree that losing a wanted pregnancy is a terrible tragedy.
Are you okay with opening up these terrible personal tragedies to police scrutiny?
If a fetus is a person, a legal person with a right to life, how can that NOT happen? The police will have to investigate every miscarriage to see if it was just “natural,” whatever that means, or if the woman did something, even inadvertently, that caused it.
And women, who even inadvertently, cause the death of another person go to prison.
Do you see what I’m saying? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say “that is a person you are murdering and you therefore should be punished under the same laws as anyone else who is committing a murder” to a woman who chooses to have an abortion and not say “that is a person you accidentally killed and though its very tragic that you didn’t mean to kill that person, under the law, you’re still responsible for that person’s death and so you must also go to prison.”
It either is a person all the time or it isn’t. You can’t establish personhood of a fetus based only on the behavior of the mother, where, if she wants to have an abortion, it’s a person, but if she wants to carry the pregnancy to term, but is incapable of it, it’s just an understandable tragedy.
I believe that Rep. Campfield doesn’t really care about the implications of his legislation, as long as it, in some way, punishes women for having abortions (and lets be honest, that’s what this is about–making sure that women who want to have abortions are “properly” stigmatized).
But I’m asking you to consider, truly consider, in your heart what the implications of establishing legal personhood for all forms of pre-birth human life are. And ask yourself if you’re really okay with the police investigating all miscarriages and with women who desperately wanted that pregnancy going to prison because it ended.
Because I don’t see how it can be any other way. The U.S. Constitution says, that a state cannot “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” And so, if you establish personhood (which issuing death certificates is the point of) of aborted fetuses, you have to treat all fetuses as persons and give all of them equal protection of the laws.
So, I ask you, even if you’re anti-abortion, please, for the sake of all women who miscarry, oppose this legislation.