Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Abortion and "personhood" legislation

According to this, the unfortunate woman from El Salvador who was forced to go through with her pregnancy despite life-threatening problems delivered the baby (which had no brain) by c-section today. She seems to be stable, though in intensive care, and hopefully she'll be all right. The baby, of course, died five hours after delivery.

Down in the article is buried a very good point that's relevant to the US, and those who seek to pass "personhood" legislation. The Health Minister in El Salvador said: "There are cases of girls that come with ectopic pregnancies and they are left to bleed to death because here it's not allowed to terminate the pregnancy."

An ectopic pregnancy involves the implantation of an embryo in the wrong place in the body, and that would certainly constitute a "person" under "fetal personhood" legislation, which seeks to put fertilized eggs and already-born humans on the same legal footing. According to Wikipedia, about one percent of pregnancies are ectopic (most of those implant in the Fallopian tubes). What is to be done about such pregnancies if the embryo is designated a "person" with independent rights? Will women just be forced to bleed to death? Wikipedia says that in developing countries, "ectopic pregnancies are a major cause of death among women of childbearing age." If we make it impossible for doctors to treat ectopic pregnancies, it seems inevitable that they'll become a major cause of death here, too.

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