The state of North Dakota passed the first-ever personhood bill today. It's only remains for the Republican governor Jack Dalrymple to sign. If he does, the state's constitution will provide that “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and protected.”
There are other ramifications of bill, such as all abortion will be banned in North Dakota, with no exceptions, zero, none. And some forms of birth control, stem cell research and in vitro fertilization could be restricted, as well..
Of all the many causes that the radical religious far right try to cram down the throats of the rest of the country, the one that might infuriate me the most is "personhood." In part because (unlike some of their issues) it overlaps other areas, in part because it disregards science, in part because it so egregiously foists religious belief on all Americans, in part because it's especially spitting in the face of women, but mostly because it's insane.
Forgetting all the many questions, like, can the zygote be claimed as a dependent by the parents or have a bank account opened in its name, the main reason "personhood" galls me is because of one, simple basic reality -- the name.
The name may sound all-encompassing, but it's the opposite. The name may even sound liberal, and tree-huggerish and politically correct, but it's not. The name actually proves the emptiness of what its proponents must hide, that disproves the validity of the cause itself.
And what flaw does it hide?
This is what I wrote almost a year ago to the day when a "Personhood" Act passed the Oklahoma Senate, though didn't later become law --
The name "personhood" hides that proponents of the bills cannot actually tell you if the "person" is a male or a female.
Ask them. "Okay, this unborn 'person' you want to give human rights to at the moment of fertilization? Is that a male? Is it a female?" The answer can't be determined. Indeed, "he" or she" isn't ever used in the discussion. Instead it's always "the unborn child." The unborn person. It's always spoken of in the general -- because it can't be spoken of in the specific. But that impregnated egg is very specific. And one thing that can't yet be determined is if it's a male or female.
That's why they call it "personhood." Because "it-hood" sounds too creepy.
Zygotehood sounds even worse. But that's what it is. Because it sure isn't "a person."
For all the convoluted debate, it's really very simple, in the end: if something can't be determined to be a male or female, it can't possibly be a person. After all, being a male or female is pretty much the core requirement to be a person. Everything else is gravy. So, without being able to determine if something is male or a female, then it's impossible to call that a person.
The best you can do is hermaphrodite.
Because the only other option is that the religious far right is trying to recognize the rights of a transgender person.
(Yes, I know that neither are likely. If I had to bet my money between the two, though, I'd put it on hermaphrodites.)
If neither, however, they're out of options. After all, if something isn't a male person or female person -- it can't be granted "personhood."
Now, perhaps we can do something about centaurs...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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