Saturday, May 14, 2005

More bear-back riding

and I guess it has to be bearbare-back this time (does this make me lesblogian or into blogeastiality - either way, it's sure to piss the fundies off). Pandagon notes via Tennessee Guerilla Women (the antidote to Tennessee Pig-lovin' Men) that among the pending bills in the state's legislation includes a bill that [emphasis added]:
Redefines person to mean a live human being with life beginning when the ovum is fertilized by the male sperm; permits abortions only if the mother’s life is at risk and after the physician certifies certain information.
I'm not sure what they mean by "male" sperm, I don't think they've defined that but as only the male of the species produces sperm, it's quite possible they mean to protect zygotes that contain a Y chromosome? If this fails, they's also suggested a bill that [emphasis added]:
Redefines person to mean a live human being with life beginning when brain activity commences, which is five weeks after a fetus is conceived
First off, a fetus doesn't exist 5 weeks post conception, when conception and implantation is successful the implanted blastocyst develops into an embryo which enters the fetal stage the 9th week after conception (pregnancy is timed from last menstrual period of the mother, not from time of conception). Brain development is trickier.

What the neanderthals in the Tennessee legislature are claiming as brain activity are early neuronal reflexes; interesting since House Majority Dictator (and cardio-thoracic surgeon) Bill Frist authored a book in 1989 in which he suggested including anencephaly as in indicator of brain death (a child born with anencephaly has greater brain function than one that's merely in an early stage of histogenesis of its nervous system.

The truth is, the reasons for these laws are because the "Pro-life" crowd, who claim to be constitutional literalists (and state thast if no explicit right is stated in the constitution, it doesn't exist), cannot claim the US consititution supports an inalienable right to "life" (let alone implant and develop to be born alive) to organisms of human origin that are not yet born.
SECTION 1. 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.
The references to a person do not indicate to "all persons conceived" or all persons "gestated" in the US as being citizens, they reference those born in this country or naturalized as citizens. Contrary to "pro-life" claims, they are not defining person in the first sentence they are defining US citizen (the phrasing discusses "all persons born . . .in the US", not "all persons born" -there's a big difference).

Later in the section, the founding fathers refer to person/persons meaning the protections they afforded were to be applied to all persons in the country's/state's jurisdiction, not just to citizens in the jurisdiction. They are clarifying which persons are US citizens, which are not and what protections apply to each defined class of person. As they went out of their way to define these different types of persons and afford them unalienable rights, but did not make any mention of rights or definitions of citizens to those yet to be born, there is no legtimate claim that the constitution protects a zygote, blastocyst, embryo or fetus as a person or human being. In order to gain that protection, the states are re-defining person to apply the constitution to this new unrecognized legal class.

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