“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body.”
Can we skip the litany and just note that 2012 was a strikingly bad year for conservatives in the War of the Lady Parts? It’s a depressing review, to be certain. Unfortunately, 2013 is off to a bad start for the social conservatives, who are apparently quite happy to continue the trend of refusing to make any sense.
A big hint dropped last month when a two year-old court filing emerged in which a Catholic hospital turned the Church’s longstanding fetal personhood argument upside down, giving the impression that money is more important than life. The Church hierarchy has since reiterated its life-at-conception stance, and repudiated the filing, but the damage is done.
This month the personhood argument takes another hit from the anti-abortion crowd as the Alabama legislature works to pass a new TRAP† law aimed at making pregnancy termination services more difficult to provide and receive. Arguing in support of HB 57, state Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin (R-Pelham) explained:
“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin said in an interview Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”
The whole idea of life-at-conception personhood [LACP] is, to say the least, controversial. While it makes for an attractive argument, conservatives in general seem unwilling to face up to its implications. First and foremost, for instance, is the idea of a miscarriage. After all, if life begins at conception, and, therefore, a zygote is a person, how do you apply Equal Protection (Amendment XIV.1) as regards cause of death? My conservative neighbors scoff at the idea that these “people” deserve an investigation to ensure their passing was not homicidal. But think of it this way: If I was driving too fast, and killed a pedestrian with my car, I would be subject to considerations of vehicular or negligent homicide. What if a husband is driving too fast, slams on the brakes, and his pregnant wife miscarries the next day? Apparently, determining whether or not the seat belt contributed to the miscarriage‡ is just too complicated and expensive, at least according to conservative associates I’ve put the question to. Wearing socks while walking down stairs? Maybe a working, single mother shouldn’t work, because she might trip over a chair mat at the office, or slip on the wet floor behind the lunch counter. Ask conservatives about Equal Protection and LACP; it’s an exercise in futility.
But the contradictions rising less than two months into the year are of a different valence. Indeed, one might suggest orbital decay, as McClurkin’s argument blazes in flames as it crashes to the Earth.
Katie J. M. Baker, at Jezebel, makes the obvious point:
My liver, heart, and skin are all very excited that we are now giving organs personhood rights, although the latter is slightly upset about losing out on its “largest organ in the human body” rep ….
…. McClurkin’s pancreas did not respond to requests for comment.
The anti-abortion argument depends on fetal personhood. At some point, the argument goes, that organism growing inside a woman’s body becomes a person. Setting aside the unresolved question about how fetal equality (i.e., personhood) should establish fetal supremacy, as the conservative argument in 2013 seems incapable of comprehending such intricacies, a certain, obvious question remains: Is it a person or an organ?
Or is it all just for show? There are many who suspect the larger point of the anti-abortion movement has more to do with misogyny than abstract assertions of when life begins. Rep. McClurkin’s lack of argumentative integrity will only reinforce that suspicion.
And it doesn’t really help the GOP to have those words come from a woman.
No, really, it doesn’t.
† TRAP law: Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers.
‡ Seat Belt Miscarriage might make for a great punk band name, but the joke ends there.