Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), erstwhile vice presidential candidate in the failed presidential run of former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), has signed on as cosponsor in a draconian new bill aimed at curtailing women’s reproductive freedoms. According to Huffington Post, in spite of the defeat of so-called “fetal personhood” laws in 2012, Ryan and his colleagues are forging ahead with a new measure that classifies all embryonic tissue as a human life from the moment of fertilization.
Ryan and Georgia Congressman Rep. Paul Broun — who gained notoriety in 2011 when video surfaced of him calling scientific facts “lies from the pit of Hell” — cosponsored the bill, which is called the Sanctity of Human Life Act. Broun first introduced the measure in 2011, but Ryan re-introduced it on the Hill last week.
The measure specifies that a “one-cell human embryo,” even before it has implanted itself in the uterine wall and resulted in a pregnancy, should be granted “all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”
According to the ACLU, voters have rejected fetal personhood legislation in droves. A measure trying to establish the citizenship rights of fertilized eggs was voted down by a margin of 16 points in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the nation. Petitions to get fetal personhood measures on the ballot in Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, Arkansas, Florida and California all failed to receive enough signatures to qualify.
Voters and civil libertarians are concerned that the laws are so strict and unreasonable that they would make some forms of birth control and in vitro fertilization illegal, as well as all forms of abortion, including cases of rape and incest and instances where the health of the mother is threatened.
An Oklahoma court struck down that state’s “personhood” law on the grounds that it was plainly unconstitutional and imposed unreasonable restrictions on women’s ability to make their own reproductive choices.
Broun, for his part, disregards these concerns.
“As a physician, I know that human life begins with fertilization, and I remain committed to ending abortion in all stages of pregnancy,” he said in a statement. I will continue to fight this atrocity on behalf of the unborn, and I hope my colleagues will support me in doing so.”
The bill has a total of 17 cosponsors. Ryan, who is rumored to have presidential ambitions for 2016, de-emphasized his extreme anti-abortion views for the sake of the 2012 campaign. He cosponsored 2011′s House Resolution 3, one of the first bills out of the tea party-heavy Republican Congress.
H.R. 3 attempted to strip all public funding from health care facilities that provide abortions and to limit abortions only to women who had undergone so-called “forcible rape,” although that provision proved odious enough to be removed even by the Republican majority in the House.
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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