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What is “fetal personhood”?

2024-04-03

Earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled frozen embryos have the same rights as children. The decision sent shockwaves throughout Alabama and raised serious questions about the future of IVF in the United States. While the Alabama legislature has since passed legislation protecting IVF in the state, that doesn’t address the big question behind the court’s decision: What does personhood mean, and what does it mean for the anti-abortion movement?  

Read More:

Fetal personhood laws, explained - Vox 

Alabama’s Supreme Court IVF ruling is a warning to the country - Vox 

Opinion | The Anti-Abortion Movement Is Gunning for Fetal Personhood - The New York Times 

How America’s Two Abortion Realities Are Clashing - The New York Times 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
We have a lot going for us in Fall River, Massachusetts. Great bird watching and an Amazon warehouse with health care on day one and free technical training programs. Good for employees. Good for Fall River. Amazon. Every day better. This coming Monday, millions of people in North America are going to experience a total solar eclipse. When it happens, it's like there's a sound of wish. It just feels like magic. It hits you in every part of your body. Just feel like something is surrounding you. Something is taking you to a place you've never been.
Been before. This week on Unexplainable, why one scientist has been chasing eclipses for almost 30 years. Listen to Unexplainable for new episodes every Wednesday. It's the weeds. I'm John Glenn Hill. And some decisions leave a whole lot of questions in their wake. Like a recent case out of Alabama. My name is Timothy Hudson. I question is about IVF and personhood. I'm curious about the future legal and policy consequences of the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that established personhood at fertilization.
To the Alabama IVF ruling from earlier this year. Three couples in Mobile sued after a patient at a hospital connected to a fertility clinic, got ahold of some embryos and dropped them. They were destroyed. The state Supreme Court basically said that destroying those embryos was the same as destroying children. And that decision opened up a Pandora's box of legal what ifs. Big questions about the future of IVF in Alabama, IVF in this country, and what happens if legal status is granted at cons-- Perception. Some people seeking IVF treatment cannot have embryos transferred and cannot have them moved out of state for the procedure because providers don't want to risk the loss of the embryos. Can those providers be held liable? for wrongful imprisonment or kidnapping of these embryos now? Since Timothy sent us his question, the Alabama legislature passed a law protecting IVF patients and providers as a direct response to the state Supreme Court ruling. But the law does not address the bigger question of legal personhood.
Alternatively, how does this affect timelines for things like minimum ages taken at a driver's license, registered to vote, or for a selective service, and to purchase tobacco and alcohol products. For any hypothetical persons conceived through IVF after having their embryo frozen for five years, Has the Alabama ruling reasonably established they have a right to vote 12 or 13 years after they were born? The state of reproductive rights right now is complicated and it's messy. Today on the weeds, we're going to get Timothy some answers. And there's one person I always turn to for questions like these. - My name is Mary Ziegler. I'm Martin Luther King Professor of Law at UC Davis School of Law.
Actually on a book now on fetal personhood. I'm a 2023 2024 Guggenheim fellow, which is supporting that work. And I've written six other books on struggles over reproduction. The most recent was published in 2023. Let's think back to June 2022. Back when Roe was overturned. And you know, as someone who's studied this history of reproductive rights, what-- Was your immediate thought about what would or what could happen next? Well, I think my most immediate thought was just that this wasn't over. Right? The Supreme Court sort of made out as if this was the end of conflicts in the courts and really the end of conflicts about abortion that eventually states would sort of work it out where where each, each.
Jurisdiction would have laws that reflected what voters wanted and things would kind of simmer down. And I expected that not to happen, first because I expected Dobbs itself to be unpopular, but also because I expected Dobbs not to be the end of the road for opponents of abortion who had always been interested in this idea of fetal personhood. In other words, for them it was never just... About getting rid of a right to abortion, it was always also about pursuing this idea of rights for
And embryos and zygotes. So I was expecting to see rulings like the Alabama Supreme Court sooner or later, and I was expecting to see larger anti-abortion groups react to the ruling the way they have, which is to see it as a starting point for something much bigger. Okay, something to note. Throughout this interview, you'll hear Mary and I use the term fetal personhood. That's because it's the term being used in the debate. But these laws aren't just about fetuses. They aim to give legal rights beginning at conception, whereas the fetal stage doesn't begin until around the ninth week of pregnancy. I asked Mary how fetal personhood is defined.
Well, that's contested. The basics of fetal personhood are not contested. The basics of fetal personhood say that an embryo or a zygote or a fetus is a whole separate independent person biologically, even if that person is in utero, and that that person has legal and probably constitutional rights, either should have or already does have constitutional rights, which means that, for example, if voters in a state want to have a right to abortion, they can't, because that would violate the federal constitution. It would mean potentially that. The way IVF as it's currently practiced now violates the Constitution. Having said that, you know, there's a lot of unanswered questions about what fetal personhood is, because for a long time it was just this sort of aspirational thing in the Republican Party platform that anti-abortion advocates talked about. Out when they were alone, but no one really thought you could practically do anything
So there are a lot of things that really haven't been worked out within the anti-abortion movement about some of the very questions we're starting to see surface today. What is that end of the road for fetal personhood for those who are anti-abortion advocates? Like what does it look like? Cause I part of me as this is playing out, I'm like, was there a plan? Like what what's happening? Well, I mean, I think the end game has to either be. Constitutional amendment recognizing personhood, which some people in the anti-abortion movement still say is the way to go, but that seems almost impossible, right? You couldn't even get a national statute recognizing fetal personhood right now, much less a constitutional amendment, which requires a super majority of state legislators. And a supermajority in Congress. So what it probably looks like is a U.S. Supreme Court decision saying the word person in key parts of the Constitution applies to --
life from the moment an egg is fertilized, which would potentially raise all kinds of questions about the constitutionality of lots of state reproductive rights protections. That's probably what it looks like. So on the one hand, I do think people who are champions of personhood do have a plan in the sense. That I think they're building towards something in the US Supreme Court. I think on the other hand, there are a lot of the harder, messier questions they've been kind of pushing off because they didn't They would need to answer them immediately that all of a sudden have become of immediate practical relevance. And so this impression of people sort of flying blind is not completely wrong. - Can you walk us through the language and the relevant parts of the Dobbs opinion that opened up this sort of legal canopy?
worms. One thing that's interesting is no one in Dobbs actually talks about fetal personhood directly. And that was a surprise to a lot of people, including me. I thought Clarence Thomas was going to. Generally, Clarence Thomas is good for like being the person. Who talks about the really conservative legal argument no one else will touch, but he didn't either. And that was notwithstanding the fact that lots and lots of different anti-abortion groups had personhood in their briefs. Having said that, there are lots of things in Dobbs that encourage personhood proponents to keep moving forward. One, Dobbs used a lot of language that was reminiscent of the personhood movement, described abortion for example as the taking of a human life. And Dobbs told a story about U.S. history. That abortion had always been looked down on, had always been a crime throughout pregnancy in one way or another, that was very...
Similar to the argument being made by abortion opponents that the authors of the relevant parts of the Constitution had always seen a fetus as a rights-holding person. So a lot of that meant that personhood proponents, one, were excited about Dobbs because Roe Was no longer in the way. Roe had not only held there was a right to abortion, but it had actually rejected the idea that a fetus was a person under the 14th Amendment. There were sort of a breadcrumb tale coming out of Dobbs suggesting that the court wasn't ready to recognize fetal personhood today, but that there was certainly hope that the court could change its mind in the future. Of recognition of fetal personhood in their laws right now. But when did this idea first take hold? That's up next. Support for the weeds comes from.
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Listen and subscribe today at harris.uchicago.edu/napp. That's N-A-P-P. We have a lot going for us in Fall River, Massachusetts. Historic charm, great bird watching, and... And an Amazon warehouse. MJ works there. She got healthcare on her first day. - For me and my kids. - They're a big birding family. Jose is doing a free tech program. His career is about to take off in-- - It's a development. - Full and part-time employees are spotting opportunities like these all across the country. Good for employees, good for Fall River. Amazon, every day better. Hi, I'm Taylor Lorenz, host of Power User. Those videos on TikTok where somebody gives money to a stranger who's down on their luck. It all seems really warm and fuzzy.
By it, who never wanted to be a part of that, who experiences a lot of... Stress and pain. - This week on Power User, are kindness influencers really good for society? Check us out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or YouTube. - It's the weeds, we're back. And I'm talking with Mary Ziegler about the legal concept of personhood. I asked her what the current legal landscape is. - There are a lot of states, like upwards of a dozen states that have some kind of fairly broad recognition. Fetal personhood. What isn't clear is how much any of them are intended to actually be enforceable. So for example, Alabama had this 2018 constitutional amendment saying, Okay, a fetus is a person with rights, and so on. But no one really knew or I think still knows what that means in practical terms.
Thing is true in a lot of other states. There are some states that have clearer laws, like Arizona has a law that just says personhood begins... When an egg is fertilized, that that's being held up in court right now, but if it were enforceable, it would just mean a fetus is a person all the time for all purposes. That's more unusual. We've seen this legislative session, a lot of states trying to recognize a fetus for limited purposes. For example, in homicide laws, if you kill a pregnant person, a lot of states will say, Well, that's actually two homicides, not one because of the fetus. Or if, you know, someone, like if... Fetus dies in utero? Can you sue? If you die without a will, does a fetus get to inherit? These are the kinds of bills we see more of.
But this is a very dynamic area. And I think after the Alabama Supreme Court decision, it's ironically kind of become harder for Republicans to legislate in this area. Because on the one hand, you have a lot of independents and moderate voters saying, whoa, this fetal personhood thing has all these unintended consequences. Doing this. And you have a lot of very conservative voters saying some of these more modest proposals like involving child tax credits or wrongful death just don't go far enough, right? They want more sweeping recognition of fetal rights. So I think we have to sort of stay tuned to see how the legislative landscape is going to change. Mary, how did we get to this point? When did fetal personhood first come up in American politics? So this concept emerged in the 1960s, so it wasn't immediately a concept that showed up when Americans started trying to criminalize
Throughout pregnancy. So there really wasn't, for example, a fetal personhood in the 19th century when states first began putting in place really sweeping ban. It came later in the 1960s when Americans were starting to consider reforms to those criminal laws, and it's worth emphasizing This was a time when sexual mores were changing, right? When people were reconsidering laws on sodomy, same-sex intimacy, sex outside of marriage, and also reconsidering laws on contraception and abortion. So at this point, what was at the time a primarily Catholic movement, at first argued that it was not necessary to reform abortion laws because you know, people didn't need access to abortion, pregnancy was really safe, so people never would need to terminate pregnancies. And those arguments were...
Unsurprisingly not successful because pregnancy was and is still pretty unsafe in the United States, which has very high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity. So instead you began to get arguments that liberal abortion laws were just unconstitutional. Like it didn't matter if voters wanted them, didn't matter if they were medically necessary. They were just off the table because of the Constitution. So this movement began kind of as a reaction to a reform fight, but it's lasted for a half century, it's really had this amazing staying power on the American right. At a time when lots of other ideas have come and gone, this idea has really stuck around. - So you wrote an op-ed for the New York Times back in August, 2022, a few weeks after the Dobbs decision, and you made this really interesting connection between the civil rights movement and the personhood movement, where it sort of talks about this claim that
Abortion is a form of discrimination and that, you know, what really matters when it comes to equality under the law isn't necessarily a long history of subordination, which is what I think we typically think of, but that it's about physical vulnerability and dependence. And I think that's so interesting. And I also wonder where the idea of personhood sits in the American political imagination right now, all these years later. - Yeah, I mean, it's really important to say Always an equality argument. So you'll see over and over again, starting in the 60s through the present, people saying. The unborn child is like the enslaved person or the unborn child is so bold that just wow
And now I mean, it's, it's really, I mean, it's an incredibly common argument. Like, I can't tell you how common the argument is. And the thing that I think is striking about it is, one, that it did have this sort of Rorschach test quality work. It could appeal to people who are opposed to abortion, who kind of were, you know, politically diverse in some ways, right? So sort of Catholic social justice types all the way through, you know, deeply conservative across across the board, Southern evangelical Protestants. But the kind of common denominator was this idea that conservatives have their own vision of what equality under the law means. That's very different from the one we've seen in the past, very different from the one many progressives currently have, very different than in some ways what the Supreme Court had said on many occasions. And so there really was this idea, I think, one, that what made the unborn child, or what made equality,
Particular groups important was not about the past, right? It wasn't about erasing past discrimination or the legacy of past. Discrimination at all. And two, that the way you really address discrimination in the present was punishment. Conservatives overwhelmingly too are not saying, well, the way we address the wrongs done to the fetal victim are by doing more to support pregnant people, right, or having more government Prohibiting pregnancy discrimination or better prenatal care. There's some of that, but overwhelmingly the answer is you protect the rights of the fetal person by punishing the people who wronged the fetal person. You know, the universe of people who could get punished at the moment primarily includes doctors and people who assist. Abortion seekers, but there's an ongoing debate and has been for some time about whether it should include women and abortion seekers themselves too. Has there ever been a point when the idea of fetal personhood
mainstream in politics? Or is this something that stayed on the edges? It's not really been on the edges, right? So one kind of fun In fact, if anybody wants to go online, you can see that fetal personhood constitutional amendments have been in the Republican Party platform since the 1980s. So that's not a fringe thing, right? That's one of the two major political parties. But I think what's complicated about it... Is that personhood for a long time was sort of like a get out the vote tool for the GOP. It was sort of saying, hey, we get that you conservatives have this vision of equality, and we get it, and we're— For it, but no one really was expecting anyone to be able to do anything about it. So the interesting question is, is doing something like this, about it to fringe is doing something about it not really gonna happen or
Is doing something about it going to make its way into the mainstream GOP's kind of proposals the same way this constitutional amendment did as a symbol. And I just don't think we know the answer to that yet. - So in its earlier stages, how did personhood as a concept divide the ante? abortion movement. In the early years, it didn't divide the movement as much because no one in the movement really had to figure out what it meant. But when Roe came down, then the anti-abortion movement had to figure out what Do next? And the answer overwhelmingly was a constitutional amendment, not just letting the states decide, but saying that a fetus was a person. And then in sketching out what this constitutional amendment was going to look like, anti-abortion leaders had to sort of agree on what an ideal solution would be, and that created a lot of debate.
Would say, Well, you know, an amendment needs to treat abortion as homicide and punish people who have abortions for homicide or murder. and other... Activists said, Well, no, that doesn't follow at all. Instead, what we really need to do is just have lawyers appointed for fetuses before abortions could occur. And the goal would be to just discourage people from performing abortions, not to... Incarcerate anybody. Other people were arguing that you would need, also need, government intervention to protect pregnant people. Like you would need child care laws and you... You would need better prenatal care and you would need all these other things that if a fetus was a person, the government would need to treat pregnant people. And women a whole lot better than it already had. So there were all these debates about what enforcement would look like. And then of course, it became really.
Clear that you can't pass a constitutional personhood amendment, which is still true today. And then the movement was sort of able to retreat back into these kind of symbolic debates about, oh, hey, personhood, we're all for it. Personhood is great. Personhood is aspirational. Without really sketching out what it was gonna mean. And that had really been kind of the status quo until after Roe was overturned. - Up next, we get to Timothy's questions and the Pandora's box of weirdness that could come from a legal recognition of personhood. We'll be right back. - Hi everyone, I'm Brene Brown and this is Unlocking Us. In this podcast, we'll explore ideas, stories, experiences, research, books, films, music, anything that reflects the universal experiences of being human, from the bravest moments to our most brokenhearted moments.
Some episodes will be conversations with the people who are teaching me, challenging me, confusing me, maybe ticking me off a little bit, and some days I'll just talk... To you about what I'm learning and how it's changing the way I think and feel. The first episodes are out now. We're gonna do three or four part series every quarter, so about 12 to 15 episodes a year. - And now you can find me wherever you normally listen to your podcasts. You can get new episodes as soon as they are. Published by following Unlocking Us on your favorite podcast app. And as always, stay awkward, brave, and kind. - So Mary, one thing that- That we've discussed a little bit earlier is the 14th Amendment. And I often think of the 14th Amendment.
As the amendment that keeps on giving because I feel like it comes up so often. Why are fetal person-- Advocates circling in on the 14th Amendment in particular? I think it's a combination of the fact that the 14th Amendment does kind of get repurposed by social movements, and it has since the 60s, but also again because the 14th Amendment is about equality and fundamental rights. Personhood proponents are not just saying abortion is immoral or abortion or IVF or problematic socially. They're really saying that they have a vision of what equality in the United States should mean and what kinds of constitutional traditions we should have. And the 14th Amendment, I think more than any other part of the Constitution, sort of embodies that idea. So, you're seeing conservative groups, I think, turn to the 14th Amendment to say, you know, if we're sort of trying to get at what is American...
America's original sin or what would a more equal America look like? They have an answer to that that, you know, doesn't involve slavery, doesn't involve race, Involves sex discrimination. They have an answer that involves abortion, right? Or that involves IVF. So it's a... Bigger move, right? It's a sort of bigger move about what kind of country we have, what kind of constitution we have, you know, what we the people means, right? Shortly after the Alabama Supreme Court decision, the Kentucky State Senate passed a bill that would grant pregnant people the right to collect child support while the child is in utero. And I have to admit, I don't hate the idea of giving the mother of your child money while she's pregnant. Like, being pregnant seems like a very stressful experience. It requires a lot of care. But if policies that support pregnant people hinge on this idea of personhood,
seems so politically murky. I don't know, it just, it feels messy to me. How do you square all of this? - Yeah, I mean, I think the complication is that, you know, there is no inevitable conclusion that thinking of a fetus as a person means criminalizing stuff and suing people and making certain forms of care off limits. Like that's just the way we've. Evolved in the United States. But I think what's happened in a way is that because of so much of United States politics is geared around this idea of abortion and criminalizing abortion any recognition Of fetal rights in any area of the law, even if it would help pregnant people, has these kinds of additional costs. And that's just unfortunate, right? It's sort of a sign of how dysfunctional
I mean, I think in the short term, what most progressives propose is just disentangling protection for pregnant people from protection for fetuses. In other words, just saying you get child support because you need to defray medical expenses because you're pregnant, not because the fetus is a person. And I think that's fine. And the tricky thing, of course, is that there's a subset of Americans who think fetuses are persons who don't want to criminalize abortion or IVF, right? So I mean, I think Pew Forum in 2022 did a poll that found something like 33 percent of Americans said they thought a fetus was a person and that life began at — and that abortion shouldn't be restricted or criminalized. So there's this sort of weird universe of... Who say, you know, I don't think that this one thing follows from this other thing. And they're politically homeless, right? Because so much of the conversation about personhood is driving toward criminal abortion laws. And if you have something else to say about why you think you'd want to protect fetuses.
Is you're sort of out of luck. - I think that's so interesting because where do they go politically if they're sort of in this place of like, yeah, I believe life begins at conception, but yeah, also keep abortion legal. Yeah, I don't know where they go. Yeah, I don't either. I mean, I think that it helps to acknowledge they exist. And I think it would also probably help for progressives to begin talking about personhood Ways. I mean, generally when you hear progressives talk about personhood, it's usually to say, This is just a clump of cells, or, This is sort of ridiculous. And like, I think the question you played at the beginning, you know, could people vote at age 12 if a fetus is a person? You know, these kinds of questions that seem like the sort of Pandora's box of weirdness that would come from recognizing fetal personhood, like none of that is wrong. But I think being too dismissive of the idea that people attach value to life in the womb misses the...
Experience of people, for example, who have miscarriages or stillbirths or, you know, people for whom the idea of fetal life is really messy and complicated. So I think a good starting point would be to kind of acknowledge the gray area that exists for a lot of people, but then recognize that that gray area shouldn't and doesn't have to lead toward criminalizing everything. I'm glad that you brought up Timothy's question. And end the weirdness because I do want to circle back to that. I mean, he raised a lot of good questions about what a legal definition of personhood could possibly mean. Including voting age and driving age and just, you know, like if I have embryos, can I claim them on my taxes? Like what is the legal conversation? and you're hearing around things like that. And yeah, where do you see that going? - It's sort of unclear, right? So some--
Some anti-abortion groups are going to try to say, Well, we're only going to recognize fetal personhood for these limited purposes. But that's not ultimately what they want, right? If they want 14th Amendment personhood, then that raises constitutional questions. A fetus then becomes a person for all the purposes related to the Constitution. And I think that's really where We don't know where things are going to end up because I don't think we've seen conservatives really flesh out what they mean or what would happen. - I know that time in utero is so important for the wellbeing of children. Too long ago, we talked to the economist, Catherine Ann Edwards about the cost of childcare. Note that early childhood even starts, you know, back in utero. Prenatal care really matters. And one critique that... Progressives have often made of the anti-abortion movement is that people who say they're pro-life aren't necessarily advocating for things.
Like universal prenatal care or advocating for policies that would enrich a child's life after it's born. How is that shaping this conversation? And is it shaping this conversation? At all? - Yes and no, right? So again, there are some people in the movement who are advocating for the government to do more, to guarantee better outcomes for children after birth. And a lot of them, again, tend to be affiliated with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, for example, lobbied for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which was a law that requires employers to accommodate pregnant people's disability,
It's generally a progressive law. It was led and launched by progressive organizations, but you did have some anti-abortion groups getting on board with that. For the most part though, again, because the anti-abortion movement's been affiliated with the Republican party, the answer the movement has offered is essentially that supporting pregnant people should be left to private, usually Christian charities, like Christian maternity homes, pregnancy crisis centers, and the like that they think are better at handling this than what they would view as big government. The problem with that as a solution is that we've seen. In many of the states that have the strictest abortion bans and the most support for crisis pregnancy centers or maternity homes are also states that have not only the highest rates of maternal morbidity. And mortality but also unusually poor outcomes for children after birth, including infant mortality, but really well into a child's life.
You've been doing the media rounds since the Alabama decision. And like that totally makes sense because anytime any new. On abortion comes up, I'm like, I know who I need to call. I need to hear an email. I know who will be able to like explain this, go in depth, etc. And I want to pose a question to you that you asked. Recently on the Ezra Klein show, and it's if our abortion politics don't reflect our abortion views, what does that tell us about the health of democracy? And I'm curious what you think all of this does say about-- the health of democracy right now, particularly in an election year. Like, what is this reflecting back to us? - It could reflect one of two possibilities. One, I think, is that voters have become complacent about this issue if they do support abortion rights.
And could potentially be in for a very rude awakening if Donald Trump is elected again, because there are a lot of things Trump could do that hadn't been options for other Republicans in the past. Another possibility is that voters do care and that there are various kind of structural obstacles to them making their feelings known. That could be the difficulties in voting, it could be gerrymandering, it could be political polarization, it could be even things like campaign finance, and the influence of money in politics. It could be state legislative polarization, which has created single party states across much of the United States. So in all of these ways, there are now disconnects between what voters want and the policies that are actually put in place. And I think this is especially clear when we look at the discrepancy between ballot initiatives, when voters are just given a straight up and down vote on something, and state legislative proposals.
Where state lawmakers are sort of the intermediaries and often don't feel accountable to voters who are polling certain ways and holding certain beliefs. So I think it's a... Concerning side of our democracy, certainly to say the least. And I think that trend is likely to accelerate if Donald Trump wins in 2024. Then the headlines are all going to say, well, it turns out Americans don't actually care about reproductive rights after all. It turns out Donald Trump has a mandate to try to introduce. A backdoor abortion ban or limit access to Mifepristone because Americans, it turns out that was just sort of a blip on the screen. And they really don't actually find these issues important. - Yeah, there's this kind of existential question I've been thinking about quite a bit lately since the Dobbs decision and you know. If you take the anti-abortion movement's argument in good faith, we really are dealing with a philosophical question about life and...
When life begins and no one is going to come to a consensus on that. People believe different things, people have different outlooks. I remember being in a class back in undergrad and it was a political theory class and the subject of religion came up and the professor said, If you believe in religion, you're Something, you believe it. Like there's no like changing minds. There's no like, oh, here's science to prove whether or not Or not, you know, the existence of God, all of these things. Like, if you believe it, you believe it. There's a big difference between... Believing something and knowing something. And when we're dealing with beliefs. And different beliefs, how do you reckon with something like that in a democratic society?
There's any kind of common ground, I think it has to be around the, like, how do you enforce it or what does it mean? Because obviously the question of like, when does life begin, it's even messier than that, right? It's like, there are people who say, well, yeah, like, I think it's a human life at conception, but I don't think it is, that life has rights. As rights, but I don't think it has these rights or equal rights, or I don't think it has rights that lead to criminal law or whatever. I mean, there's so many, you know, are disagreeing. On this subject are more in number and in kind than even we often think. So, I mean, I would like to think that... If we disagree on these things, we would agree on, for example, it being bad that our maternal mortality and morbidity
numbers put us on par with nations much less powerful and rich than our own or that we would care about the fact that we don't. It's not a fun place to be pregnant. The United States is not a safe place to be pregnant. It's not a fun place to be pregnant. Our laws don't do a very good job of protecting people who are pregnant. Our healthcare system doesn't do a particularly good job of treating people who are pregnant, particularly when those people aren't white. And it's a good thing that we're not treating people who are pregnant Would be nice, I would like to think everyone would be on the same page about that, right? Because if you think a fetus is a person, it's not a win for that person's mother to die because they have... Adequate healthcare. And it's certainly not a win if you don't think that fetus is a person either. So I don't. I don't know how optimistic to be about that because we're so divided, but if there were any common ground, that would be where I would want to look just because in theory, whatever you think about personhood, you should look at it.
In our maternal mortality and morbidity numbers and be kind of horrified and ashamed and wondering what we could do. - Mary Ziegler, thank you so much for joining us on The Weeds. - Thanks for having me. - So back to Timothy's question about the legal implications of the Alabama ruling. As Mary pointed out, there isn't much of a consensus within the anti-abortion movement on what quote unquote personhood means and how that's reflected in the law. The reality is though, that we're likely to see more laws To define it and more lawsuits in the future. Next week, we'll explore another side of this debate. Do Americans still have a right to privacy? Privacy doesn't only pertain to the right to an abortion. In his concurring Dobbs opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas signaled that the court should rule
related to our privacy, such as same sex marriage, contraception, and the right to quote, Engage in private consensual sexual acts. That's all for us today. Thank you to Mary Ziegler for joining me and to Timothy for the question. If you have a question you want answered or thoughts on today's show, email weeds@vox.com. Our producer is Sophie Lalonde. Krishna Yala engineered this episode. Melissa Hirsch fact checked it. Our editorial director is A.M. Hall. And I'm your host, John Glenn Hill. This podcast is part of Vox, which doesn't have a paywall. Help us keep it that way by going to vox.com/give. - More than 60% of sales on Amazon come from independent sellers like Sylvia.
You simply season. Sylvia started her small business to help people spice up their meals. - Not to deal with shipping. So she turned to Amazon to take logistics off her plate. Now, she's sharing her global flavors, well, globally. Mm, sweet. - Tunisian five spice. - Five spice high five. Learn more at aboutamazon.com. you
Transcript generated on 2024-04-04.