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Sperm and the Art of Personhood

Posted Feb 10 2012 9:38am

It’s the funniest thing this morning: after reading a couple of articles about three state legislators’ attempts to fight back against absurd, anti-women measures in their own states, I simply cannot get “Just the Two of Us” out of my head.

Here, let’s share this earworm together:

Just the two of us
We can make it if we try
Just the two of us
You and I

Now imagine a single sperm serenading his intended egg, a love song for the embryo-to-be. The image is all the more hysterical.

(You’re welcome.)

Last week, in the wake of the SGK/PP debacle I posted about The State of the Uterus . About how I hate how politicized women’s healthcare has become. About how some days, I kind of just want to head-desk repeatedly at the madness of what’s being proposed regarding women’s healthcare around the nation. And then I read about the amazing actions of three legislators who like me, are fed up.

Unlike me, they have a little bit more power to truly fight back on their own legislative turf.

It started in Virginia last week. State Senator Janet Howell introduced an amendment to a bill that proposes requiring women to undergo an ultrasound prior to having an abortion. She turned the bill on its head by adding that men who wish to seek a prescription for drugs like Viagra, to treat erectile disfunction, would require both a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test.

Zing! Nice work, Sen. Howell.

Just the week prior, Oklahoma introduced a personhood bill that attempts to “ do right ” where the Mississippi personhood bill failed. (If you have 5 minutes, click over and read for all the details. This bill is legits scary.)

Next up to bat is Oklahoma State Sen. Jim Wilson:

Another pro-choice legislator, Democrat Jim Wilson, attempted to add an amendment to the bill that would require the father of the child to be financially responsible for the woman’s health care, housing, transportation, and nourishment while she was pregnant. ( Source )

But it’s State Sen. Constance Johnson who knocks it out of the park. Fighting back against the clearly misogynistic agenda of personhood legislation, she threw this amendment to the bill out there:

However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.


While Sen. Wilson’s amendment failed and Sen. Johnson later tabled her amendment, both admit they threw these amendments out there to make a point: you can’t keep punishing women with personhood and anti-reproductive choice legislation.

It takes two to make an embryo.

(Or, if you’re the 1 in 8 with infertility like me, it takes you, your egg donor, your husband, your RE, and a team of embryologists.)

You can put in all the language you want about what constitutes killing an unborn person to protect things like IVF and miscarriages, as the OK bill is (horribly failing at) trying to do. But in the end, all they do is punish women for a) having wombs and b) having had sex in the first place.

There is zero accountability for the sperm that made it all happen.

When I was looking through my photos for a picture to accompany this post, I came across this one from the Boston Walk for Choice last winter:

Notice the woman in the bottom left corner.

In CSI fashion, allow me to ENHANCE!

Her sign: "Because you don't force boys to become fathers."

This picture sums up perfectly the inherent bias and sexism that exists with measures that seek to restrict women’s access to healthcare, be it through personhood amendments, banning birth control funding, or other anti-choice legislation.

While their actions might be viewed as snarky or childish, what Senators Howell, Wilson and Johnson have done with their crazy amendments is help illustrate just how crazy this kind of legislation is to begin with. Their actions shine a laser beam on exactly who this kind of legislation targets.

It’s not those precious unborn people. (PS: embryos =/= people .)

It’s women.

The actions of these senators paint that fact clear as day for all the world to see and I imagine, it’s making some people uncomfortable to have their agendas totally called out in such a public fashion. Because, let’s not forget: when you introduce amendments, they go in the public legislative record.

So Friday kudos to Senators Howell, Wilson and Johnson, for bringing some much needed common-sense discussion into the personhood and anti-choice debates, in the craziest ways possible.

And how sad is is that we have to resort to these kinds of antics to protect women’s access to healthcare in the first place.

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