Elimination or erosion of women's reproductive choice has been a top priority with Republican-dominated legislatures since the 2010 midterm election. The pro-choice organization, NARAL, compiled a graph in 2011 that shows the cumulative anti-choice measures that have been enacted since 1995, noting that in 2011, 26 states enacted 69 anti-choice measures. Amidst a flurry of anti-choice legislation introduced in the states this year, the only clinic in Mississippi that provides abortion services may be shut down due to draconian regulatory measures introduced in the state. MS State Rep. Bubba Carpenter (R) reportedly joked when asked about the closure, "Well, the poor pitiful women that can't afford to go out of state are just going to start doing them at home with a coat hanger.”
This anti-choice theme is reflected in the state Republican platforms across the nation.
The majority of the 32 GOP state platforms reviewed condemn both abortion and teenage access to abortion or contraceptives, with Vermont calling for a general opposition to any legislation “supporting a culture of death.”
Louisiana’s 2008 platform calls for the criminalization of pregnant women who abuse drugs, stating in Paragraph 9 that:
We support harsh criminal penalties for women convicted of using illegal drugs while they are pregnant, exposing their unborn to such drugs. This has been proven to increase the rate of birth defects.[stextbox id="info" caption="This story is part of an 8-part series…"]
(7) With liberty and justice for all (except pregnant women, gays, and people who don't like religion in the public square).
Source materials (links to quoted materials).[/stextbox]
What are personhood amendments?
While many of the platforms call for the overturn of Roe v. Wade in which the US Supreme Court found a Constitutional right to abortion, a number of state Republican platforms are specifically calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would declare that human life begins with conception. These amendments are identified as “personhood amendments” or “human life amendments” in the state platforms. On a federal level last month, KY Senator Rand Paul (R) attempted to stall a Senate vote on flood insurance legislation by attaching a fetal personhood amendment to the bill.
Proponents of personhood amendments declare that the fertilized egg or zygote has Constitutional rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The amendments do not allow for any exceptions, regardless of the health of the mother, the viability of the fetus, ectopic pregnancies, or the circumstance of impregnation (rape or incest). A personhood bill considered by the State of Georgia in early 2011 would have opened the door for criminal investigations of women suffering miscarriages. In addition to health and legal concerns, opponents to these personhood amendments are concerned that many forms of common hormonal contraceptives could be banned because they do not allow fertilized eggs to implant in the womb, thus allowing women to “murder” their eggs. In October 2011, Walter Hoye, a representative of Personhood USA, admitted to NPR's Diane Rehm that personhood legislation would ban birth control pills.
In Alaska, the party endorses “the Human Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” because “Man is made in the image of God; therefore, we embrace the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until natural death.” (V.J., 2010 platform).
The notion of “moment of conception until natural death” appears in most of the state GOP platforms that pledge to protect the unborn, even if those platforms do not specifically endorse a federal personhood amendment. It is unclear whether political implications are intended when some states use the word "conception" to define when a human life begins and others use "fertilization." The scientific community and federal policy generally consider a woman to be pregnant "only when a fertilized egg has implanted in the wall of her uterus." Hawaii specifies that human life begins at “fertilization” instead of at “conception” in a 2011 resolution:
Whereas, the Hawai`i Republican Party believes that a human life cycle starts at fertilization and ends at natural death and that throughout this cycle he or she has rights;
Corresponding with the idea that life must be protected from “conception/fertilization” to natural death, most of the state Republican platforms condemn doctor-assisted suicide.
State Republican platforms calling for a federal personhood amendment.
The following state Republican Party platforms call for a personhood amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
- Alabama (through resolution);
- Alaska(in its 2010 platform);
- Kansas (2010 platform);
- Missouri (Draft);
- New Hampshire (2011-2012);
- North Carolina;
- North Dakota (implied through 2012 Resolution);
- Oklahoma (2011);
- South Carolina; and
Colorado’s Republican platform appears to call for a state personhood amendment … while at the same time claiming that pregnancy and abortion should not be subject to government regulation:
36. It is resolved by Colorado Republicans that life is deserving of respect and legal protections from conception until natural death.
37. Be it resolved that Colorado Republicans support the passage of a Constitutional amendment to guarantee that the right to life begins at the moment of fertilization.
38. It is resolved by Colorado Republicans that pregnancy, abortion and birth control are personal and private matters, and should not be subject to government regulation or interference.
Related Sections in this Story:
- Church, state, and an overview of state Republican platform trends.
- Our godly heritage and religious liberty.
- Our patriotic Christian nation, from K-12.
- More than 1 in 5 Republican parties agree: Creationism should be taught as science.
- God bless the zygotes.
- The gays and minorities must be marginalized to save America!
- With liberty and justice for all (except pregnant women, gays, and people who don't like religion in the public square).
- Getting America back on track with faith-based programs.
- Source materials (links to quoted materials).