Ruthless: Part 2 (of 3) ~ Cracking Some Eggs: Does American Citizenship Begin with conceptions? Why do IVF fertilized eggs get a special dispensation? 

by faithgibson on June 12, 2019

in Women's Reproductive Rights

Not a enough time to finish reading this post? Skip down to this photo (kitten protected by great dane), and heading: “The Ultimate Nightmare ~ a real-life story you’ll never be able to get out of your mind”  

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  • Our Irrational anti-abortion politics and how that applies to the disposal of frozen IVF fertilized eggs

  • Everything you ever wanted to know about conception but were afraid to ask!

  • The Ultimate Nightmare

Recently the Alabama Legislature passed a Draconian anti-abortion law based on the “Right-to-Life” movement’s position that life begins at conception, thus equating abortion to murder.

The Alabama law is the first to make abortion illegal from conception on, with no exception for victims of incest or rape.

Performing an abortion is now a felony, with doctors and other healthcare providers facing a 99-year prison sentence.

Based on this “life begins at conception” definition, the moment the sperm penetrates the ova — even if this is an act performed under a microscope in the laboratory of fertility clinic — conception has occurred and any destruction of the fertilized egg or failure to keep it viable would logically equate to murder.

However, when Republican State Senator Clyde Chambliss was asked if his state’s sweeping abortion ban also prevented IVF clients from discarding embryos and other fertilized eggs held by the clinic.  He replied

“The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.”

Obviously, there is no biological difference between a fertilized egg in a lab and a fertilized egg in a person.

When a fertility patient successfully conceives or if she decides to end fertility treatments, she simply gives the clinic permission to discard these fertilized embryos. This is carried out without fanfare, controversy, objection by the Roman Catholic Church or Right-to-Life picketers carrying signs up and down the sidewalk in front of the fertility clinic with pictures of ‘unborn’ fertilized eggs.

So let me reiterate these two different concepts of “conception”

(a) When a man ejaculates in the birth canal of a woman, and conception occurs in one of her fallopian tubes when his sperm and her egg meet up ‘naturally’, we say:

“Life begins at conception”

and consider the fertilized egg to be a separate and solitary (although very small) human being who falls under the protection of the US Constitution, with all the inalienable rights of an empowered American citizen.

In these cases, any termination of pregnancy as a criminal offense necessitating a felony murder charge against the woman and her doctor.

(b) When a man ejaculates in a paper cup and the doctor uses a very long needle to puncture the mother-to-be’s abdomen and retrieve an unfertilized egg from her ovary, and conception occurs as a man-made medical ‘procedure’ that brings his sperm and her egg together in a Petri dish, the resulting fertilized egg is not considered to be a separate and solitary human being of the sort that falls under the protection of the US Constitution.

In such cases, post-conception fertilized eggs may be disposed of as the woman wishes (or necessity requires) under ‘business as usual’ rules, without any further regulation, legal restrictions or causing a big public brouhaha.

Distinction Without A Difference

This is an irrational distinction without a difference and represents either hypocrisy or a gross misunderstanding of biology.

A technological “Meet Up”, as the woman’s big round egg is penetrated by her partner’s sperm and its long wiggly tail drops away and the miraculous biology of cell-division begins a process that results in a new human being nine months later

‘Arbitrary and Capricious’ Equals ‘Unconstitutional’

In the 1970s, a US Supreme Court decision written by Justice Brennen established as a point of law that it was “arbitrary and capricious” to treat two things that were the same as if they were different, or to treat two different things as if they were the same, thus making any such law unconstitutional.

For example, you are a business open to the public, such as a restaurant selling food to people who can pay for their meals, but refuse to serve certain individual customers or a certain category of persons because of their color, religion, nationality, or other factors that have nothing to do with their ability to pay for the services your establish provides, then your actions are arbitrary and capricious, thus unconstitutional and illegal.

Based on this same legal principle, it is unconstitutional to treat certain fertilized eggs differently, depending on whether the conception took place in the mother’s fallopian tube or a Petre dish.

As a point of logic, that means society must do one of the two possible actions listed below, keeping in mind that they cannot do both simultaneously, as that would be unconstitutional under the theory of “arbitrary and capricious”:

(a) Declare constitutional personhood for ALL fertilized eggs and find a welcoming uterus for each one and every one of those hundreds of thousands of fertilized eggs, or failing that, have the American taxpayers pay to keep frozen in perpetuity those thousands of ‘unadopted’ fertilized eggs, or if that doesn’t fly, issue death certificates for each unadopted frozen egg, followed by a funeral

(b) Accept the termination of pregnancies during the first 14 weeks** by making peace with this issue just as society has already done with the disposal of unwanted or unneeded fertilized eggs.

{**14 wks equals 90 days after conception since pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the missed period. However, ovulation occurs 14 days after the first day of the last period, and that is when conception takes place. The way we currently calculate pregnancy, a mother-to-be isn’t pregnant for the first two weeks of her ‘pregnancy’}

Actually, the political issue is a whole lot simpler than that, since the GOP doesn’t really care about the hundreds of thousands of frozen fertilized eggs in the refrigerators of corporate-owned fertility clinics. Nor does it wish to provoke the ire of the thousands of families desperately trying to conceive every year. IVF is a situation that simply does not lend itself to being exploited into the high-octane political ‘wedge issue’ that the GOP has so easily (and profitably!) turned its anti-abortion efforts into.

In addition, the combined cost of pre-treatment fertility drugs and in vitro fertilizations generated an estimated $8 billion dollars in the US last year, so this is an industry with lots of corporate clout and political sophistication.

So the GOP is perfectly happy to have wealthy and/or well-connected women fly off to another state to partake of safe and legal abortion services. Certainly, the American airline industry and medical clinics in other states appreciate the business!

The GOP is also perfectly happy to have all those “unborn” baby eggs stored in the freezers of fertility clinics and let them be ‘discarded’ when no longer wanted by their ‘parents’. Certainly wouldn’t want to tip that $8 million-dollar ship or make any of its wealthy donors unhappy!

Strike Three: the GOP’s failure to support policies that prevent unplanned pregnancies

It’s not just the Republican stance on IVF that makes the political nature of their anti-abortion agenda so clear — that they need the anti-abortion fight to go on and on because it is so good for their “brand”.  We know this is a fact by their refusal to support legislation that would reduce the need for abortion services.

If the GOP was genuinely concerned about the health and wellbeing of girls and women and their minor children, they’d make birth control freely accessible and affordable and loudly proclaim that preventing unplanned pregnancies was an important adult responsibility and a core “family value“.

Instead, politicians fight to make birth control harder to get and prevent young people from accessing information that could keep them healthy and limit unwanted pregnancies.

Obviously, the GOP doesn’t really care about when life begins or the saving frozen fertilized eggs. Their only goal is to whip up hysteria and then use it to gain a partisan advantage.

Ruthless Reality: The Ultimate Nightmare ~ a real-life story you’ll never be able to get out of your mind!  

But the damage of unsafe illegal abortions is NOT strictly a problem for mothers. In many cases, these tragedies involve other family members, including small children, and ultimately ruins other lives. One example is provided by the first-person account of a man in his late 50s, recounting events that occurred when he was a child.  

It began when he was 7 years old and living with his mother and 15-month-old baby sister. One evening after the two children had been put to bed, his mother went into the bathroom and locked the door.

Early the next morning his baby sister woke up hungry and crying hysterically to be picked up and fed. But oddly, his mother did not come out of the bathroom to take care of the baby, in spite of his calling her again and again. So he got up and banged on the door and kept calling her, but she wouldn’t come out and didn’t say anything to him.

He didn’t know what was wrong or what to do next, except to give his crying baby sister a bottle. This settled her for a while, but her night diaper was soaked. He did his best to change her diaper, but he couldn’t get it to stay put.

Many a grown man has failed to figure out how to get a diaper to properly cover the business-end of a wiggling infant and keep it in place while trying to stick sharp pins into the diaper without harming the baby or jabbing one’s own fingers.  I can’t imagine trying to do this as a 7-year-old child.

But that first bottle and diaper change was only the beginning of the many problems these children faced. By the end of the day, milk carton was empty so he could no longer give a bottle to his baby sister. He tried to stop her cries by stuffing tiny morsels of different foods in her mouth while staving off his own hunger with dry cereal and cold leftovers.

The warm sunny day gradually faded into a cold dark night. There was no heat in the house and he didn’t know how to turn the overhead lights on. The little boy did his best to take care of his baby sister, but still, he was only 7.

He was lonely, frightened, and just couldn’t understand why his mom wouldn’t come out of the bathroom in spite of his pleading and knocking on the door. After it got pitch dark, he took his little sister to bed with him, but his inability to diaper her properly meant that both of them got wet and cold and smelled bad. It was the longest and most miserable night of his young life. 

This living nightmare melded into a long and increasingly intolerable second day. By then all the accessible food had been eaten and the children had no more dry clothes. There was no one for him to talk to, no one to comfort them, no way to know how much longer this would go on, and worst of all, no explanation for why his mother wouldn’t come out of the bathroom and take care of them like she usually did.

Had he done something to make her mad at him? Was he being punished? Even so, why wouldn’t she come out to take care of his baby sister? Surely she hadn’t done anything to deserve being neglected like this. No answers came.  

Finally, a neighbor happened by late in the afternoon of the second day and found the two children all alone. The reason was soon apparent. After breaking the lock on the bathroom door, they found his mother lying dead on the floor in a dark pool of her own blood, the fatal consequences of her attempt to abort an advancing pregnancy.

The brief but shocking glimpse of her partially-naked body smeared with blood and folded into a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor can never be erased from his adult mind. 

This badly traumatized little boy grew up to be a man whose life was forever haunted by this tragic experience.  Nonetheless, he was willing to share the story of these horrific events with a national radio audience, hoping it would keep this awful thing from befalling other mothers and other children.

The take-home message is simple — society is obligated to be both ethical and compassionate by providing access to effective contraception and safe, legal abortion services.

The cost of the alternative is just too high — gruesome, painful and unnecessary maternal deaths and unborn fetuses and orphaned older children forced to bear the unbearable.  

Next in series: The Endless & Illogical Gender War to Control Female Reproductive Biology

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