In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) explained the rationale behind the introduction of this bill during the last session of Congress in an introductory press release:
“The Life at Conception Act legislatively declares what most Americans believe and what science has long known - that human life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore, is entitled to legal protection from that point forward. Only when America chooses, remembers, and restores her respect for life will we rediscover our moral bearings and truly find our way.”
In the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun admitted that he wasn’t in a position to determine definitively when life begins. However, he made the following concession about the right to life and how it related to the case at hand:
“If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case [i.e. “Roe” who sought the abortion], of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
By defining life as beginning at conception, this legislation would strike down the rationale used by the Supreme Court to allow women to access abortions.
ThinkProgress noted that when Sen. Paul introduced this legislation in 2013, he granted that there would be complex and unique situations that couldn’t be immediately addressed from a legal standpoint in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer:
“Well, there is going to be like I say thousands of extraneous situations where the life of the mother is involved… there would still be a lot of complicated things the law may not ultimately be able to address in the early stages of pregnancy that would have to be part of what occurs between the physician and the woman and the family.”
RH Reality Check Editor in Chief, Jodi Jacobson, argues that the idea of "life at conception," not only confuses the real issue of when personhood begins, but also dehumanizes women in general:
"In the end, when you hear the phrase “life begins at conception,” remember the implications. In debating the 'personhood' of eggs, embryos, and fetuses prior to viability, we are also implicitly and explicitly debating the personhood of women. Because if you have no choice and control over your body, you are less than an actual person in the eyes of the law. If the right is so worried about abortion the closer a pregnancy gets to viability, then anti-choicers would be making sure both contraception and early, safe abortion were widely available. That really is not their actual concern.
The development of a potential human life requires conception as a first step. But that is not the same as either pregnancy or personhood. You can’t reduce complex reality to a slogan, and when you try to do so, you actually minimize the personhood of women."
Currently this bill has six cosponsors in the Senate, all of whom are Republicans.
Media:Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Sexy Eggs)