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The Progressive

'Personhood' Legislation Chips Away at Women’s Rights

Opponents of abortion are backing legislation across the country that would give legal rights to embryos from the instant of conception.

These efforts might be wrapped up in the rhetoric of dignity, but make no mistake: "Personhood" laws would weaken women's rights.

This week, anti-abortion activists in Missouri launched their campaign for "personhood" for fertilized eggs. The Missouri campaign follows on the heels of efforts to create a "personhood' amendment in Colorado and Florida.

These proposals would ban abortion in all cases, including incest and rape, and criminalize some forms of contraception.

The state legislatures of Montana and North Dakota have already rejected proposed "personhood" laws this year. Petition drives are also under way in Mississippi, Montana, and Nevada.


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Personhood USA says it's working to get "personhood" measures on 2010 ballots or in front of state legislatures in 29 states, according to AP.

Given the Supreme Court's new makeup, it's unlikely that Roe v. Wade will be overturned during the Obama Administration. But that doesn't mean anti-abortion activists are quitting. In 2008 alone, state legislatures nationwide considered about 400 measures to restrict abortion.

Last year in Colorado, a "personhood" amendment made the ballot, but it was overwhelmingly defeated by 73% of voters. Yet the backers of these "personhood" initiatives aren't discouraged. They are intent on raising and re-raising the issue.

Their goal is clear: it's about limiting the rights of women, especially pregnant women.

We can't let them win.

Elizabeth DiNovella

Elizabeth DiNovella is Culture Editor of The Progressive. She writes about activism, politics, music, books, and film. She also produces Progressive Radio, a thirty-minute public affairs program hosted by Matthew Rothschild.

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