Pro-lifers don’t actually believe that a fertilised egg is the moral equivalent of a newborn baby – if they did, there would certainly be major pushes for research on why more than half of all these cellular human beings are flushed out of the body and die. (Imagine if more than half of all three-year-olds suddenly dropped dead – we wouldn’t just shrug our shoulders and say, “Well that’s nature!”) What they do believe is that birth control has given women too much freedom. And they realise that if they can change the terms of the debate – just as they did when they rebranded an embryo as a baby – they might make some headway in the long run.
Enter personhood amendments. It’s a great strategy: you say that birth control kills fertilised eggs, then you try to pass a law that would make killing fertilised eggs murder, and then your opponents (logically) respond by pointing out that the proposed law is purposed to outlaw many forms of birth control. Voilà, you’ve just made the fantasy that birth control kills fertilised eggs a political truth. The Mississippi personhood amendment might have lost, but the anti-choice pseudo-science machine had a big win.
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