In late May 2022, Oklahoma once again passed the nation’s worst abortion ban, making it the first state to effectively end women’s right to have an abortion, and making this article, that I first published on May 20, 2019, even more relevant.
Oklahoma Republicans just passed a mind-blowingly strict law that makes abortion illegal in virtually every circumstance, effectively terminating the right of women in the state to control their own bodies and reproductive fate.
Oklahoma wasn’t alone in this, either. Other Republican-dominated states are also enacting extremely strict laws that effectively make abortion illegal, with some banning the procedure as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Republicans base these laws on their belief that a fetus is a fully legal person entitled to all the rights and privileges that all legal American citizens enjoy.
But if actually put into effect, what do these beliefs really portend for life in America?
Republican ideas will create a whole new legal paradigm the likes of which America has never seen before.
If a fetus really is a legal person entitled to all of the rights, privileges and benefits availed to all American citizens, then a mother should be legally entitled to collect child support as soon as her fetus has a heartbeat, since she is providing 100% of the care and nutrition the fetus needs to survive. The mother should also be entitled to vote two ballots in every election as long as she is pregnant, since throughout pregnancy she represents not one, but two American citizens with full legal rights. It should also become illegal to incarcerate pregnant women because imprisoning the mother would mean the person inside her would also be imprisoned at no fault of its own, and if left without recourse the fetus would be deprived of due process. The government would have to assign all fetuses social security numbers and parents would be entitled to take tax deductions for each of their fetuses. Parents of multiple fetuses — twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc., — would be permitted to take multiple deductions respectively on their taxes, one for each fetus, prior to the babies’ birth. If one fetus survives to birth and any of the others don’t, then after a full criminal investigation that results in the mother either being prosecuted for murder or cleared of all legal wrongdoing towards the fetuses that died, then the parents should be required to refund any taxes they withheld by claiming deductions for the fetus(es) that didn’t make it.
If under the law a fetus is full human being, then a woman should be able to purchase life insurance for every fetus she hosts in a lifetime, and collect from insurance companies for the ones that end up miscarried or stillborn, with no lifetime limit on the number of miscarriages or stillbirths for which she can be reimbursed, since all of her fetuses will be full, legal persons.
If an immigrant woman in the U.S. illegally gets pregnant on American soil, the government wouldn’t be able to deport her, since her fetus would also be an American citizen and it’s illegal to forcibly deport an American citizen. After the mother gives birth, however, the government could separate the “illegal” mother from her “legal” baby, find an American family to raise her baby and deport the mother.
Think you want kids? Then get ready for the pregnancy police.
If a fetus is a full, legal person, then the law will have to spell out all potentially harmful behaviors in which the mother is prohibited from engaging while she is pregnant, because engaging in these behaviors would be an assault on the fetus. Pregnancies will have to be policed to assure women don’t intentionally or unintentionally do anything that could harm their fetuses. If a woman decides to give birth at home, has an emergency, can’t get to the hospital quickly enough and the baby dies, she could be charged with homicide, since her choice led to death of another legal person.
A poor diet can threaten the well-being of a fetus, so pregnant women may have to consent to have their diets closely monitored or be forced to eat more or different foods during pregnancy if they aren’t gaining enough weight to assure a healthy baby. Not taking enough vitamins for the good of the fetus? Prepare for forced vitamin-taking.
Missed some of your required prenatal visits? Here come Republican laws requiring pregnant women see their doctors as regularly as ordered.
Mothers will also have to answer to their children after birth for behaviors in which they engaged in while pregnant. After birth, children would have the right to sue their mothers for bad behaviors the mother engaged in during pregnancy, like smoking, drinking or taking medications that turn out to be harmful to the fetus. One example of this already happened: a case was filed in 1980 in Michigan, Grodin v. Grodin, in which a child sued his mother alleging that her taking tetracycline during her pregnancy caused him to have discolored teeth.
Fetuses would have to be counted as full persons in the U.S. Census.
Pregnant women would be legally entitled to use car pool lanes.
Celebrating birthdays would be replaced with people celebrating their “conception days” instead.
The Republican Party used to be the party of freedom and less government intrusion into our lives, but not any more.
Right now, women and pregnancy are taking center stage in Republicans’ quest to protect the “sanctity of life” at all costs. Next Republicans may turn their sights to regulating something men hold dear, like outlawing the private possession of firearms to reduce the high suicide and murder rates in the U.S., because, after all, suicide and murder clearly violate the sanctity of life, and people can’t be trusted to use guns in a way that strictly protects human life (just like Republicans don’t trust women to protect fetal life). Republicans might enact laws that make the sale and use of contraceptives, including condoms, illegal, making men financially responsible for whole a lot more babies. Republicans might order the monitoring of conversations between men and their doctors to make sure doctors aren’t giving men any information on how and where to get vasectomies, and they might make it illegal for insurance to pay for a vasectomy, since having one would violate the sanctity of life. Republicans may even decide to make vasectomies illegal to assure that “pre-life” isn’t artificially thwarted and “God’s will” can be done without hindrance.
There’s no telling where Republicans’ interest in the “sanctity of life” will stop, if at all. Right now, Republicans’ religious directives are horrifying women from coast to coast, but men may be next.
Sometimes just taking an idea out to its logical ends shows how absurd a certain line of thought is, and demonstrates the sheer folly of basing policy on it. In passing draconian abortion laws throughout the country, the Republican Party has gone where it has never dared go before. These fringy Republican abortion bills should be relegated to the same historical scrap heap of disastrous religious ideas as burning witches at the stake, prohibiting blood transfusions, rejecting modern medicine and exerting dominion over the Earth until the planet is nothing more than a pile of smoking rubble.
No matter who you are, whether you’re a man or a woman or anything in between, you must now understand that if you continue to vote Republican, then you are agreeing to put in place these kind of fringe policies and accept that the government will intrude into your life in unprecedented ways, because that is the only possible logical end to this train of Republican thought.