"Life begins at conception": Reducing complex reality to a slogan actually minimizes the personhood of women

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This is a must-read article by one of my Twitter pals Jodi Jacobson (@jljacobson), Editor in Chief at RH Reality Check. It's not a short piece, but substantive as hell, informative, and chock full o' something conservatives will have a tough time with: reality.

She correctly takes issue with the anti-choice phrase, "Life begins at conception" because "it confuses simple biological cell division both with actual pregnancy and with actual, legal personhood, which are all very different things."

Amen to that.

She also uses another phrase that I use here often: "Pro-forced birth."

Amen to that, too.

Here's an excerpt, but again, link over and read it all. She makes a whole lot of sense and *gasp!* educates and enlightens:

Preventing conception or having an abortion isn't just about getting through the "inconvenience" of a pregnancy, as the right often asserts, though in many situations pregnancy does in fact pose substantial risks to the health and lives of women... It is about whether or not a woman wants to and is able to make a lifelong emotional, financial, and physical commitment—often at substantial cost to herself and/or to her family—to the person who will exist if a pregnancy is successfully brought to term. In the case of a wanted pregnancy, or an unintended pregnancy a woman decides to carry to term this can be a joyous, hoped-for, and much anticipated event. Under other circumstances, and without recourse to safe abortion care, an unintended pregnancy is a forced pregnancy and a forced birth, and amounts to reproductive slavery. Only one person—the woman in question—has the right to decide whether, when, and under what circumstances to bring a new person into the world. And the vast majority of women who have an abortion know they are ending biological life that they can not or do not want to sustain because the commitment to an actual child is a moral commitment they are not able, willing, or ready to make, or can not make for reasons of health or life.

In the end, when you hear the phrase "life begins at conception," remember the implications. In debating the "personhood" of eggs, embryos, and fetuses prior to viability, we are also implicitly and explicity debating the personhood of women. Because if you have no choice and control over your body, you are less than an actual person in the eyes of the law. If the right is so worried about abortion the closer a pregnancy gets to viability, then anti-choicers would be making sure both contraception and early, safe abortion were widely available. That really is not their actual concern.

The development of a potential human life requires conception as a first step. But that is not the same as either pregnancy or personhood. You can't reduce complex reality to a slogan, and when you try to do so, you actually minimize the personhood of women.

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  • http://primaldata.blogspot.com/ PRIMALDATA

    They are pro successful sperm. The egg isn't important(because if it was when it grew into a child they would be Pro Support system), the woman isn't important unless she can correctly accept a successful sperm, and whether or not the guy hangs around isn't important or else they would be for free paternity tests and mandatory child support. With reasonable base levels built in, factoring in the salaries of the mother and father as well as making sure that nobody can hide compensation.

    My position is if I didn't get you pregnant I have no concerns for you and your uterus past you having access to good health care and a happy life whatever you choose to do with it

  • http://twitter.com/Tothiwim Gosto Tothiwim

    A woman's eggs are alive. Sperm are alive. Anti-choicers obfuscate with the term "life". They are actually talking about ensoulment, which is a religious concept that the government has no business getting involved with.

    A woman confers personhood on her fertilized egg when she says to herself "this is my child". No one else has any say.

  • cognachas4paws

    I call them Forced Birthers, never "pro-life."  They do not care for life one bit.  Michigan recently reduced the dependent child tax credit from $600 per to $25 per.  Last week a legislator in that state introduced a Fetus Tax Credit bill that would let women take a $3,500 tax credit for each fetus they may be carrying - the fetus would be a dependent.

    So...living child, $25.  Gestating fetus, can't live outside the womb, $3,500. 

    Shouldn't legislators be, at the very least, logical?

  • sleuth1

    How sad that they don't believe the Bible they are so fond of shoving at everyone else as the TrueWordOfGod (tm):
    According to the bible, a fetus is
    not a living person with a soul until after drawing its first breath.

    After God formed man in Genesis 2:7,   He “breathed into his nostrils
    the breath of life and it was then that the man became a living being”.
      Although
    the man was fully formed by God in all respects, he was not a living
    being until after taking his first breath.

    In Job 33:4, it states:   “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

    Again, to quote Ezekiel 37:5&6,   “Thus says the Lord God to
    these bones:   Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you
    shall live.   And I will lay
    sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you
    with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live;   and you shall
    know that I am the Lord.”

    more at:
    http://joeschwartz.net/life.htm