Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Egg Americans

Colorado is going to try to have them, again:

A version of the anti-abortion initiative soundly defeated by Colorado voters in 2008 is making its way to the 2010 ballot, this time reworked as an "egg-as-a-person" initiative.

This new version would move the legal definition of a person further back into the reproductive cycle, granting cells the full spectrum of citizen rights. Opposition groups, including Colorado genetic and fertilization researchers, say the law would have spiraling consequences, that it would put women at risk and freeze current work in medicine and reproduction.


Colorado Right to Life and Personhood USA, the groups behind proposed Initiative 25, are undeterred by the fact that Coloradans voted against the test-run amendment last year by a margin of three to one. The new amendment is even farther reaching, moving the initial marker for the beginning of life from "fertilization" to "the beginning of the biological development of a human being."

Personhood Colorado Director and the initiative proponent Gualberto Garcia Jones told The Colorado Independent that the change was made "to be more comprehensive in our definition of a person" and was not done to make it more appealing to voters.

"It's intended to account for human beings who may be created through asexual reproduction in laboratories and used as raw material for research, organs, or stem cells. Fertilization would not have properly applied to asexually reproduced humans, but even asexually reproduced human beings have a definite biological beginning," Jones explained.

I keep thinking of that old ad: "Let Go Of My Eggo." Then I try to imagine all the laws that would have to be amended to treat Egg Americans right. Surely there would have to be some sort of surveillance of women's wombs to know if Egg Americans are threatened? What if a woman drinks in a bar? She might, just might, be giving alcohol to a minor. How can we know if we don't do a pregnancy check at the door?

And then all those women who work in adult environments might be guilty of taking a minor to places where they are not allowed to be. Every miscarriage would lead to a criminal investigation.

It's the old problem: We would suspect that there are people inside some people but not inside other people. These babushka dolls are not going to have men as the outermost layer and their rights will not be reduced but all fertile-age women just might be carrying an egg American inside them! It's not possible to enforce the rights of Egg Americans without making women into containers.

That is the odd aspect of the pro-birth debates: They argue for more rights for Egg Americans and therefore by necessity less rights for their containers. Yet none of this seems to affect the rights of men at all. That may be why I find it so distasteful to watch two men debate abortion on television or to read the opinions of Mr. Something-Or-Other (coughSaletancough) as THE expert on abortion. He has nothing at risk there, you know.