Amendment 62 Arguments Get Stranger and Stranger

Robin Marty

"Fertilized egg" is now a slur?  So says Personhood USA.

Colorado Personhood is pushing hard in the last weeks of its campaign to confer the full rights of a human being on a fertilized egg.  And as the campaign continues, the news that comes from Colorado just gets more bizarre.

First the Amendment 62 people announced that not giving personhood to eggs was akin to slavery.  Now, the rhetoric has been upped even higher, as the leader of the movement states that using the phrase “fertilized egg” is as derogatory as a racial slur.

Via KRDO Colorado Springs:

“I think it’s important to note with the term fertilized egg, that’s the same thing as using the N word for an African American,” said [Keith Mason, the President for Personhood U.S.A.] “Because it’s a dehumanizing term and it’s not based in science. The term would be a zygote, or an embryo, speaking of a unique individual.”

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Meanwhile, a Colorado newspaper headline claims that opponents of giving legal rights to fertilized eggs are only against it because it would “kill romance.”

TOWN SQUARE: Personhood foes say measure would kill romance

Foes of Amendment 62 were in Colorado Springs on Thursday with a new take on an old amendment.

Backers of the “personhood” measure say they’re fighting abortion by “protecting human life from the beginning of biological development.” To do that, the amendment would change the state constitution to define fetuses as persons.

Opponents say that method to fight abortion, though, would ban most forms of birth control, causing couples to choose between more diapers or less cuddling.

The opponent’s theory: IUDs and some common birth control pills stop fertilized eggs from attaching to uterine walls, making them illegal if that egg is constitutionally defined as a person.

Why yes, I know my biggest issue with the idea of giving non-implanted, fertilized eggs the same rights and equivalency as a fully formed, born and active outside of the womb human being is that I am concerned that it will be more difficult to get in the mood.

Analysis Law and Policy

State-Sanctioned Rape: Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Laws in Virginia, Texas, and Iowa

Andy Kopsa

Let's start calling these bills what they are: state-sanctioned rape. There is no other way around it.

Virginia is poised to send two of the most abhorrent anti-choice bills to Governor Bob McDonnell to sign. The governor, eyes trained on a vice presidential bid, has indicated he will sign at least one if not both of the bills.

The first is a bill requiring the use of trans-vaginal ultrasound prior to a woman obtaining an abortion, the other is an egg-as-person bill.  Like other failed “personhood” bills, the Virginia provision would outlaw not only abortion but also forms of hormonal birth control. 

Although the Governor has said he will consider the personhood bill he has been clear he would sign the forced ultrasound bill.  But let’s start calling this what it really is: state sanctioned rape.  

In Virginia, rape is defined as the following:

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§ 18.2-61. Rape.

A. If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness’s will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person; or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness’s mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or (iii) with a child under age 13 as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.

I called and emailed McDonnell’s press secretary Jeff Caldwell asking if the forced vaginal ultrasound bill would in-fact overturn the rape statute.  Caldwell did not return my call or email by the time of publication. 

During the debate Republican State Del. Todd Gilbert said:

“the vast majority of these cases [abortion] are matters of lifestyle convenience.” And, 

“We think in matters of lifestyle convenience and in other matters that it is right and proper for a woman to be fully informed about what she is doing.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene said of the ultrasound bill alluding to Gilbert’s ludicrous statement:

“This bill and comments on the House floor show the disrespect anti-choice lawmakers have for women’s personal and private reproductive decisions made with their doctors and their families.”

Gilbert embodies the nature of the debate in one sweeping statement; women choose abortion willy-nilly and women aren’t smart enough to make their own decisions about their bodies so big government and men will (he has since issued an apology.)

The ignorance Gilbert displayed is the norm and I encountered similar stupidity first hand when confronted by a group of men on Facebook regarding the Texas ultrasound law. This is the relevant passage from a my piece written for The Frisky on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade:

Last week I got into a heated exchange with a group of men on Facebook about abortion.  It was regarding the Texas law requiring a woman view an ultrasound prior to getting an abortion.  The man starting the thread praised the Texas Supreme Court for upholding the ultrasound law.

This opinion piece from The Houston Chronicle (via AlterNet) gives you an idea of what a the government mandated ultrasound law in Texas could mean:

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 88 percent of abortions occur during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Because the fetus is so small at this stage, traditional ultrasounds performed through the abdominal wall, “jelly on the belly,” often cannot produce a clear image. Therefore, a transvaginal probe is most often necessary, especially up to 10 weeks to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The probe is inserted into the vagina, sending sound waves to reflect off body structures to produce an image of the fetus. Under this new law, a woman’s vagina will be penetrated without an opportunity for her to refuse due to coercion from the so-called “public servants” who passed and signed this bill into law.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Under the Texas penal code penetration of a woman’s vagina without her consent is sexual assault.  In other words, it is rape  — which is punishable by imprisonment.

In my bizarre Facebook exchange mentioned above, a man brazenly told me rape by the state was analogous to paying taxes, “If you want to talk about government rape, let’s talk about paying taxes to the IRS!”

The conversation deteriorated from there, culminating with a man writing that I was “lucky your mom didn’t abort you” and to shut my “pie hole.”  It would have been simply hilarious if the premise of the conversation weren’t so disturbing.  

And then there is Iowa – Iowa is no stranger to waging war on women’s reproductive rights, it has been the hobby of the religious right there for years.  State GOP Representatives have brought forward three bills; egg-as-person, forced ultrasound and a so-called “Woman’s Right to Know” bill. 

The forced ultrasound bill passed out of a House subcommittee and is on to the full Human Resources Committee – and then its on to the floor for full debate and vote.  This bill is likely to pass out of the House but State Senator Steve Sodders told me (if it did make it out of the house) it would certainly die in the Senate.  The Iowa Senate is the sane chamber dominated by Democrats functioning under the leadership of bulldog Senator Mike Gronstal. 

While it may be true that the ultrasound bill will not pass in Iowa, these attempts at passing forced ultrasound bills and other anti-women legislation must continue to be called out no matter if the bill will pass or not.  And like Texas and Virginia, the Iowa ultrasound bill could lead to forced trans-vaginal ultrasounds.  

Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People for the American Way puts it this way when talking about Virgina’s bill but can be applied across the board, “…Virginia’s ultrasound bill takes the war on women to a new level. These politicians aren’t only invading women’s hospital rooms, they’re requiring women to undergo an incredibly invasive procedure without their consent. That’s not only insulting to women, it flies in the face of our values as a free nation.” 

The bottom line is pro-choice legislators in state houses around the country as well as physicians and women’s rights activist must start drawing the clear line between state forced transvaginal ultrasounds and rape.  

Follow me on Twitter @andykopsa

Photo:  Andy Kopsa 

Commentary Politics

Rick and Karen Santorum: Strangers to the Truth, Promoters of Theocracy

Dr. Arthur Frederick Ide

Rick and Karen Santorum seek a transmogrification of democracy in the USA in favor of a theocracy.


Rick Santorum’s parental family lives in Italy.  They are not the strong capitalists that Santorum makes himself out to be. Santorum’s family members in Italy are dedicated communists.  As the Italian weekly magazine, Oggi points out: 

“In Riva del Garda [a community of ultraliberals that support gay rights, abortion, birth control, and liberal causes; the family frequently had “high ranking” communists into their home] his grandfather Pietro and uncles were ‘red communists’ to the core,” Oggi: No. 36. “Chi è Santorum, il candidato americano che sfida Obama” di [by] Giuseppe Fumagalli.

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 Karen Santorum (née Garver) proclaims herself pro-life and eschews women who live with men “out-of-wedlock,” an injunction Rick claims is Biblical. But as a nursing student at Duquesne University, Karen Santorum lived with Tom Allen, an obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) who was 40 years her senior (she was 20 and the doctor 60 years of age). Allen had in fact delivered Karen as a baby. He was also a co-founder of Pittsburgh’s first abortion clinic.  At the time that she had the sexual affair with Allen, Karen Garver (Santorum) was pro-choice.  When she met Rick Santorum, she was eager and delighted to tell Dr. Allen that Rick Santorum was pro-choice.  As Dr. Allen told a Pennsylvania newspaper in 2005 (see Philadelphia Citypaper):

“When she moved out to go be with Rick, she told me I’d like him, that he was pro-choice and a humanist,” said Allen, an elderly but vibrant man, during a brief conversation on the porch of his Pittsburgh row home. “But I don’t think there’s a humanist bone in that man’s body.”

The Santorums condemn Hillary Clinton’s book It Takes A Village as being “anti-family.”  In response to Clinton’s book, Rick wrote It Takes A Family: Conservatism and the Common Good (449 pages). On page 138 Santorum wrote:

“The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong.”

Or page 386:

“It’s amazing that so many kids turn out to be fairly normal, considering the weird socialization they get in public schools.” At one point, he accuses feminists of hating women, yet in speeches he claims that feminists are lesbians. 

The Santorums argue that the parents must protect their children from any dissettlements that could jeopardize the childrens mental health. However, the Santorums took home a 20-week-old dead fetus for their children to play with and kiss, before they buried Gabriel the next day.

Rick promises to repeal all federal funding for contraceptives. He is against all forms of birth control, and has added to the world’s burgeoning population an addition four boys and three girls (Karen was one of 12). At the same time he refuses to allow the federal government to assist the poor and diminishing middle class which cannot afford contraceptives and have numerous children who depend on federal funding for food, shelter, energy, and education.

Objecting to secular (state-operated) education, he and his wife began home schooling–and took  $70,000 from the State of Pennsylvania and the Penn Hills School District as required by local and state law. The School District requested most of the money be returned after Rick reported while electioneering that he spent only approximately 30 days in his district and had bought a house in Virginia, Santorum objected.  When the Pittsburgh Gazette-Post protested this abuse of state money, Santorum declared, without substantiation, that he had attempted to have his home owners exemption nullified. 

While there is no proof that Santorum is a member of the nefarious far-right organization Opus Dei, he did bring then-U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) to an Opus Dei priest for conversion from Protestant evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism, the religion of Josemaria Escrivá who endorsed the terrorism and bloodshed of Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco, as seen in his May 28, 1953, letter that reads:

Although alien to any political activity, I cannot help but rejoice as a priest and Spaniard that the Chief of State’s authoritative voice should proclaim that, ‘The Spanish nation considers it a badge of  honor to accept the law of God according to the one and true doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church, inseparable faith of the national conscience which will inspire its legislation. 

Santorum argues against any separation of church and state, claiming that the USA was founded as a Christian nation–even though only five of the original Congress declared themselves as Christians.  Following Gingrich, who proclaims himself an historian, Santorum seeks to win the Jewish vote by claiming, on November 11, 2011, that “All the people that [sic: who] live in the West Bank are Israelis.  They are not Palestinians. There is no Palestinian. This is Israeli land.” (Watch here and read here The Jewish Week.)  

Many Israeli Jews and Jews of other nationalities support the two State solution based on a UN resolution. Santorum’s statement mirrors the views of the Christian Zionists who as Hank Hanegraaff said “defend ethnic cleansing as a divine command” and are “bent on ensuring that the horrors of Armageddon become a self-fulfilling prophecy” (Hanegraaff, Hank (2007). The Apocalypse Code: Find out what the Bible really says about the end-times and why it matters today. Nashville, TN, USA: Thomas Nelson, p. 167; a Spanish edition was published by Thomas Nelson in 2008). 

A further indication of the weakness in Santorum’s education is his proclamation:

“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American Left who hates Christendom. … ” 

He obviously has not read Robert the Monk’s transcription of Urban II’s speech at Claremont in 1095 calling for a holy war against Islam (the First Crusade).

Not only is Santorum against Palestinians and Muslims, he is also the sworn enemy of members of the LDS Mormons. He wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer on December 20, 2007:

“Would the potential attraction to Mormonism by simply having a Mormon in the White House threaten traditional Christianity by leading more Americans to a church that some Christians believe misleadingly calls itself Christian, is an active missionary church, and a dangerous cult?”

He argues that homosexuality is a sin, but that priests and bishops (especially Weakland) within the Roman Catholic Church were betrayed by “liberals”–especially in Massachusetts.  His knowledge of Jesus of the New Testament is elementary–lacking any study of Greek, Coptic, Latin or other language that details the story–he relies only on bad English translations.  To make matters worse, he condemns the LGBT community even though the word homosexual does not appear in the language (any) before the end of the nineteenth century and is not used anywhere in the Bible.

Rick and Karen Santorum seek a transmogrification of democracy in the USA in favor of a theocracy.