In her latest New York Times collumn, Gail Collins says “Let’s talk personhood, people.”
Sure thing, Gail! Personhood bills, which define life as beginning at “conception” (but which they mean “fertilization”) are being advanced all over by Libertarian Kochtopus groups and by Rand Paul in the Senate. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is absolutely right that they are extreme and radical bills that would prohibit many forms of contraception and IVF or perhaps force all lab-created embryos to be implanted in women’s wombs, even cloned or genetically engineered ones.
I was confused why Gail Collins brought up the Hobby Lobby case, which I didn’t think was connected to personhood at all. I assumed the Hobby Lobby owners were against having to cover contraception because they were opposed in a general way to contraception, because it encourages sex for pleasure. Their argument shouldn’t have to involve embryos at all, it should just be that they object having to cover anything that is not basic medicine. But apparently, according to Collins, Hobby Lobby argued that they are opposed to having to cover it because they believe it kills embryos. If true, that is an interesting piece of information that fits in with the Koch strategy.
It explains Rand Paul’s contradiction of being “100% pro-life” while also allowing for “1000 exceptions.” I think I see the strategy: Paul doesn’t actually want his personhood law to pass. All Paul wants to do is spread the idea that embryos are living people, so that people can then claim a “religious freedom right” to implant an embryo (in their own womb, or a paid surrogate or even an artificial womb) because they believe it is a human person. Libertarian transhumanists are worried that a ban on implanting a genetically engineered or cloned embryo would prevent them from pursuing their Transhumanist dreams, so they are trying to lay the legal groundwork to challenge a ban, if Congress ever enacts one. A mere personal religious belief that an embryo is a human person is their key.
But it won’t work, because embryos may be human, but they aren’t yet living human people with a right to be implanted, even if someone personally believes they are, it doesn’t create a right to manufacture human beings by any method.