18 April 2012

USA: Fighting ‘personhood’ initiatives in the United States

From Reproductive Biomedicine Online.

The authors note that ‘personhood’ initiatives filed in many states within the United States threaten to impose potentially significant restrictions on infertility treatment, embryo disposition, pre-natal care, abortion, contraception, and stem-cell research, all through attempts to redefine a ‘person’ or ‘human being’ as existing from the moment of fertilisation or conception, and endowed with the full legal and Constitutional rights of personhood.

Virginia’s recent, unsuccessful attempt to pass such legislation provides both a dramatic example of these efforts and valuable lessons in the fight against them by infertility advocates and others. Arguments over loss of infertility treatment seemed more persuasive to legislatures than did restrictions on abortion or stem cell research. Indeed, persuading legislators or voters that they could be ‘pro-life’ and still anti-personhood initiatives was a key strategy, and consumer efforts and media attention were instrumental. The most central lessons, however, may be the degree of intensity and coordinated strategy to shift public perception that lie behind these numerous state efforts, regardless of whether the actual initiatives are won or lost.

Source: RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, Virginia, USA.

Fighting ‘personhood’ initiatives in the United States. Collins LR, Crockin SL. Reproductive Biomedicine Online. 2012 Apr 11. [Epub ahead of print]