Earlier this week I went over the science behind the question when does human life begin. The question doesn’t have an easy answer and science has yet to claim, “life begins here”. The more troubling aspect of this debate has entered the political arena where so called ‘personhood’ amendments seek to codify into law that life begins at fertilization. The end game of such an amendment would likely require the ban of all birth control pills.
The most common form of birth control used today is the birth control pill. The pill has many forms, of which the two most common forms use either a two drug or one drug formula. The main mechanisms of action for both forms of birth control pills is to prevent ovulation and reduce the ability of sperm to penetrate the cervix and travel into the upper genital tract. These two mechanisms prevent fertilization. It is also believed that a secondary mechanism of action for the pill is to thin the lining of the uterine wall which helps prevent implantation. That secondary mechanism of action is very important.
Should a zygote be declared a living human being, the secondary mechanism of action of the pill would have to be deemed a method of ‘murder’ because it would prevent a living human being from implanting and thus develop into a full grown adult human. This is the same argument used against the use of Plan B, which is simply a high dose version of the single drug birth control pill. Even though the primary mechanism of action for Plan B is to prevent ovulation (as it is with normal birth control pills), Plan B is believed to have a secondary mechanism of action which prevents implantation. This secondary mechanism of action is what pro-life activists claim makes Plan B nothing more than a forced abortion. The problem is, regular birth control pills can act in the same way.
Declaration of zygotes as living human beings would also have a drastic effect on the medical procedure known as in vitro fertilization. In virtro fertilisation works by fertilizing multiple oocytes outside of the human body and allowing the zygotes to develop into blastocysts. From there, a physician evaluates each blastocyst and selects the most viable among them for the embryo transfer procedure. Anywhere from two to a dozen blastocysts will be transferred into the uterus with the hope that one will implant and continue development. Since in vitro fertilisation involves the creation of multiple zygotes, of which most never even have the chance to develop into a living human, the procedure itself would either have to be drastically altered or made illegal should zygotes be declared living human beings. Likely, any alteration to the procedure which would preserve ‘all human life’ under that definition would make the procedure too cost prohibitive and lower its success rate drastically which is already far less than 50%.
These are just two examples of where the declaration of zygotes as living human beings, which is what so called ‘personhood’ amendments attempt to do, would have a drastic impact on the nation today. Most people that push this viewpoint do not fully comprehend the consequences of such an action and will remain ignorant. Certainly, the idea that, “Republicans want to take away your birth control” is something that most pro-life supporters vehemently reject. Yet as shown above, if you take the proposed ‘personhood’ amendment to its logical end, that is exactly what such a proposal would demand. This sort of ignorance is only part of the problem.
In my view the most dangerous part of the problem are the people and politicians who know exactly what a ‘personhood’ amendment means when taken to its logical end. It is those people that know that their proposal would eventually mean the elimination of birth control pills and in vitro fertilization procedures. These are the politicians that really scare me, because they have a hidden agenda and rely on the ignorance of others to gain support for their policies and then once those polices are passed they plan to use them to push their own hidden agenda on the masses.
We must not allow so called ‘personhood’ amendments to pass. The declaration that zygotes are living human beings is not only counter to science, which has not determined when “life begins,” but it would also have drastic consequences that would change the world we live in today.