The fetal personhood movement currently sweeping across America calls for state constitutions to amend the legal definition of a “person” to include all life beginning at conception. Giving fetuses the full rights of personhood will outlaw abortion, common contraceptives like IUDs and Plan B, stem-cell research, and alternative methods of conception such as in-vitro fertilization. More insidiously, these laws detract from the rights of already-born people. It is impossible to give rights to a fetus without taking them away from the body carrying the fetus. Fetal personhood makes pregnant women susceptible to the law by creating room to prosecute them for any action that can be construed as endangering the fetus, from refusing cesarian surgery for religious reasons to drug use to walking on ice in high heels. This extreme push against reproductive rights constructs a false fetal-maternal conflict, when in fact the real conflict is between the mother and the state.
As an advocate for reproductive justice, I am sick of fighting to protect what little we have. I am sick of playing on the terms of others, and being trapped in discourses controlled by people who don’t respect my rights.
We know what people are. We are people. I am a person. I am not an incubator, and I am not a vessel for your political agenda.
I want personhood for me.
Personhood for women.
Personhood for trans-people and genderqueers.
Personhood for black, brown, and white bodies.
Personhood for those who do not see themselves reflected in recognized demographics, who don’t know what box to check, who don’t want to check a box.
Personhood for the disabled, and the temporarily-abled.
Personhood for people who can’t afford a kid, can’t afford another kid, can’t afford Plan B, can’t afford the pill.
Personhood for the homeless.
Personhood for native peoples, new immigrants, undocumented workers.
Personhood for everyone who feels a little bit illegal.
Personhood for prisoners.
Personhood for teenagers who are terrified, and teenagers who know what they want.
Personhood for grieving mothers who lost their babies.
Personhood for abortion providers and those they love.
Personhood for those who cannot conceive without the aid of technology.
Personhood for pregnant women struggling with addiction and abusive relationships.
Personhood for survivors of sexual assault.
Personhood for the elderly.
Personhood for people who want to live and love and have sex in any and all ways, and may they find recognition.
Personhood for children who are born, and may they all receive the safety and care and respect that we promise them.
Personhood for me, for us, for them, for all who must fight to assert themselves as whole people in this society.
May we respect each other, and recognize each other’s struggles as real.
May we allow each and every person to speak for their self.
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