Benefits to Women of “Egg-As-Person” Laws? Hmmmm…We Didn’t Think Of That!

Jodi Jacobson

Courtesy of our friends in the feminist blogger/journalist communities in Colorado and throughout the U.S., here are some potential benefits and some additional negative implications of recognizing zygotes, or fertilized eggs, as persons.

It seems that in our concern about the negative implications of "egg-as-person" laws for women–you know, loss of autonomy for the woman as a person, loss of access to contraception, abortion and any medical intervention that might save her life but adversely affect her fertilized egg, loss of legal rights to do anything that might *potentially* adversely affect a fertilized egg because she might *potentially* be pregnant at any moment between the years of 11 and 55–we have overlooked some potential benefits.

Courtesy of our friends in the feminist blogger/journalist communities in Colorado and throughout the U.S., here are some potential benefits and some additional negative implications of recognizing zygotes, or fertilized eggs, as persons.

Women could:

  • Drive in the high-occupancy or carpool lane at all times
  • Get a federal dependent tax deduction from the moment of fertilization

  • Demand to be served two-for-one meal restaurant specials

  • Collect Social Security and Medicare nine months early

  • Blame the "egg" for any misdeed or crimes; cop only to being an unwilling accessory

  • Sue their egg(s) for pain and suffering

 

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On the other hand, there are some as-yet unconsidered implications for those zygotes and their "hosts."

  • Eggs could appear as aggrieved parties on "Judge Judy."
  • The possibility of carrying a fertilized egg could leave women subject to being charged for two seats by an airline (for her and her "egg") (but no extra peanuts!).
  • Ultrasounds could be subject to invasion of privacy complaints by eggs.
  • The "truth truck" could be sued for defamation of character.
  • A fertilized egg could sue for wrongful imprisonment in a womb.
  • Age discrimination law age ranges would need to be rolled back 9 months.

 

It’s all those unintended consequences….

Feel free to add your own.

News Science

‘Bad Medicine’: Anti-Choice Laws Ignore Medical Evidence

Nicole Knight Shine

Nineteen states require providers to give verbal or written statements that are medically inaccurate or biased. Patients must be told fetuses can feel pain, despite the lack of scientific evidence.

Seventy percent of the 353 state-level abortion restrictions introduced so far this year are based on political pretext, false information, or stereotypes, according to an analysis released Thursday.

The advocacy group National Partnership for Women & Families released the analysis as part of its “Turning Lies into Laws” campaign focused on lies about abortion in 2016. The analysis follows on the heels of its report, Bad Medicine: How a Political Agenda is Undermining Women’s Health Care, which lays out the ideological motivations and inaccuracies that the report’s authors say underpin the majority of legislative impediments to abortion care.

Two hundred fifty-one cases of newly introduced abortion care restrictions run contrary to evidence-based medicine, according to the National Partnership’s analysis of data from the Guttmacher Institute.

“Lies about abortion and the women who have them are being turned into laws across the country, and it needs to stop,” Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership, said in a statement accompanying the memo. “All women deserve medically accurate information and access to a full range of reproductive health care, including abortion care.”

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The Bad Medicine report, which includes abortion restrictions in place as of 2015, notes how such regulations force health-care providers to deliver outmoded care, ignore patient preferences, and drive up costs for providers and patients without improving patient health.

The report’s authors detail a growing number of medically unnecessary impediments to abortion care, including:

  • Mandated counseling: 19 states require providers to give or offer verbal or written statements that are medically inaccurate, biased, or false. In 12 of those states, patients must be told fetuses can feel pain, despite the lack of scientific evidence. In nine states, the written statements stress the negative emotional effect of abortion, including depression and suicidal thoughts, even though the American Psychological Association has said the “overwhelming majority” of pregnant people feel relief after the procedure, rather than regret.
  • Mandatory ultrasounds: 13 states have passed laws to require ultrasounds before abortion care, and of those, five include a requirement that the providers display and describe the image even if the patient doesn’t wish to see it.
  • State-sanctioned delays: 31 states have passed laws to delay abortion care, typically 24 hours, with Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah forcing a patient to wait 72 hours in the off chance that pregnant people might change their mind—a common anti-choice argument.
  • Onerous facility requirements: Nearly half of all states require abortion clinics to be outfitted like ambulatory surgical centers, despite research that indicates abortion procedures often are safer than wisdom teeth removal, which is performed in a dentist’s office.
  • Medication abortion restrictions: 19 states have passed measures to bar providers from administering medication abortion via telemedicine, with six states having “passed laws preventing providers from administering medication abortion in accordance with the standard of care that reflects the most up-to-date evidence.”

Major medical organizations oppose “this trend of political interference in medical decision-making,” according to the report. And courts have moved to block some of these anti-choice measures pushed by Republican-held legislatures across the country.

NPWF_Bad-Medicine_Overview-Map_2

The report issues a call for reform, asking lawmakers to reject legislation that interferes with the patient-provider relationship and to repeal laws that ignore medical evidence and science. In addition, the “Turning Lies into Laws” campaign encourages site visitors to take a pledge to fight back against politicians “using lies to push abortion out of reach.”

“The leading medical societies, including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are on the record stating that obstacles to abortion care pose a threat to women’s health,” Sarah Lipton-Lubet, director of reproductive health programs at the National Partnership, said in a statement. “Abortion opponents need to learn that legislating something doesn’t make it true, and that when they lie we’re going to call them out.”

The American College of Physicians has said in its “Statement of Principles on the Role of Governments in Regulating the Patient-Physician Relationship” that “mandated care may also interfere with the patient-physician relationship and divert clinical time from more immediate clinical concerns.”

In February, a Rutgers University study suggested that people considering abortion care are provided with medically inaccurate information about a third of the time in the 23 states with so-called informed consent laws. Researchers found that more than 40 percent of information in booklets produced by Michigan, Kansas, and North Carolina was medically inaccurate.

Alabama, Alaska, and Georgia had the lowest percentages of inaccuracies, each with less than 18 percent.

Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to clarify the data in the National Partnership for Women & Families’ “Turning Lies into Laws” campaign and its Bad Medicine report.

News Law and Policy

Unanimous Supreme Court Strikes Massachusetts Buffer Zone Law

Jessica Mason Pieklo

According to the Roberts Court, Massachusetts had not shown that it tried to address clinic protests in a less restrictive means than enacting a fixed 35-foot buffer zone.

On Thursday, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that a Massachusetts law that provides for a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics is unconstitutional.

The decision reverses a federal appeals court decision that had held that the buffer zone was constitutional.

The ruling, while unanimous, did not throw out buffer zones around abortion clinics entirely. According to the Court, the Massachusetts buffer zone law violates the First Amendment because it burdens more speech than necessary.

According to the Court, clinics should rely first on existing laws like local traffic ordinances to keep clinic protesters at a distance. Furthermore, the Court said, Massachusetts had not shown that it “seriously undertook” efforts to address clinic protests and blockades with the legal tools already available prior to enacting the buffer zone. Therefore, the Court held, the state could not show that the law at issue was narrowly tailored enough to meet the requirements of the First Amendment.

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“Petitioners wish to converse with their fellow citizens about an important subject on the public streets and sidewalks—sites that have hosted discussions about the issues of the day throughout history,” the Court wrote. “But here the Commonwealth has pursued those interests by the extreme step of closing a substantial portion of a traditional public forum to all speakers. It has done so without seriously addressing the problem through alternatives that leave the forum open for its time-honored purposes.”

Reproductive health and rights advocates expressed disappointment in the decision Thursday. “No one should be physically attacked or threatened for simply seeking out healthcare. Buffer zone laws, like the one in Massachusetts, create a safe space, which allows reproductive healthcare facilities to meet the needs of patients, including contraception, cervical cancer screenings, and abortion care.” said Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, in a statement following the opinion. “These facilities are often the only places where low-income women can access these critical services. Despite this disappointing decision, we will continue to work with advocates and policymakers to ensure that Latinas and their providers can seek and provide care without fear of violence, threats, or intimidation.”

Since enactment of the Massachusetts law, at least four states or local municipalities have enacted buffer zone laws.