FACT CHECK: Planned Parenthood’s lies about Personhood

Today, Personhood Education released a new document fact-checking Planned Parenthood’s mistruths about personhood laws. Radical pro-abortion groups, such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the so-called National Advocates for Pregnant Women have repeatedly spread blatant fabrications about the various effects of adopting personhood measures. Among the absurd claims that these pro-abortion groups make are that personhood would ban contraception, IVF, life-saving treatment for pregnant women, and even prosecute women for miscarriages.

A recent segment on KUSA-Denver explained that Planned Parenthood admitted they “couldn’t point to any legislation in Colorado or elsewhere that specifically says women who have miscarriages could be questioned, and they couldn’t give any cases of this happening in other states that didn’t involve extenuating circumstances like drugs or violence.”

Unfortunately, some media outlets have repeated these myths without examining the lack of evidence.

Learn the facts for yourself…

Introduction

Personhood amendments would recognize unborn human beings as persons deserving of equal protection and due process under the law, guaranteeing the right to life for all human beings regardless of their stage of development. Personhood doesn’t change the criminality of acts but includes unborn babies as recognizable victims under the law.

But Personhood’s opponents don’t want to talk about that. Instead, they continually mislead the public with drastic claims that have no basis in fact. They say that personhood will cause investigations of miscarriages as well as ban contraceptives, in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and life-saving medical procedures. These claims are untrue.

We address each one of these misleading claims below:

Investigating Miscarriages

Miscarriage is a tragedy, not a crime; personhood only deals with criminal acts. Even prior to Roe v. Wade when abortion was illegal in the United States, women were not investigated for miscarriages. Today, abortion is completely illegal in nations like Ireland, yet women are not investigated for miscarriages. Why? Because sadly, miscarriages are very common. They do not provide probable cause or even reasonable suspicion of a crime. Police have no reason to waste their time (and endanger their careers) investigating non-crimes.

Of course, when groups like the National Advocates for Pregnant Women say that personhood amendments would criminalize miscarriage, they are being extremely disingenuous. Their organization, which defends the use of dangerous illegal drugs during pregnancy, frequently classifies instances of infanticide as “miscarriage.” For example, National Advocates for Pregnant Women defended Purvi Patel, who gave birth to her child in secret and reportedly thinking it “might be dead,” put the child in a bag, threw the baby into a dumpster, and then lied to medical staff at the local hospital about what had happened. Yet Lynn Paltrow and her organization treats this situation as if it were a normal miscarriage!

Life-Saving Medical Treatment

Legally speaking…

Personhood would not prevent pregnant mothers from receiving life-saving medical treatment, even when that treatment could result in the death of the unborn child. Even if state law didn’t explicitly cover this situation, the doctrines of Double Effect and self-defense would each separately allow such life-saving treatment. It is inconceivable that any district attorney would even approach such an issue.

Setting aside any possibility of doubt, take for example the criminal code in Colorado, which is typical of state criminal codes across the country. The revised statutes already contain section 18-1-702 that allows for “choice of evils”. This section is unchanged by a personhood amendment and would allow life-saving medical treatment (such as for cancer or ectopic pregnancy) to save the mother’s life even if it could result in the death of the unborn child.

CRS 18-1-702 …[C]onduct which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal when it is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid an imminent public or private injury which is about to occur by reason of a situation occasioned or developed through no conduct of the actor, and which is of sufficient gravity that, according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality, the desirability and urgency of avoiding the injury clearly outweigh the desirability of avoiding the injury sought to be prevented by the statute defining the offense in issue.

Under a personhood amendment, doctors will continue to enjoy legal immunity for good faith efforts to preserve the lives of pregnant women and their unborn children.

Medically speaking…

A personhood amendment would not prevent doctors from providing the best and most appropriate medical treatment for women who are pregnant. Treatment for cancer, for example, would not be affected. In fact, many forms of cancer treatment are safe for both the mother and the child. According to the American Cancer Society, research teams from Belgium, France, and Israel have all published peer-reviewed articles in The Lancet and The Lancet Oncology indicating that “many cases of cancer in pregnant women can be treated while the baby is carried to full term.”

Dr. Frédéric Amant—the world’s leading expert in gynecologic oncology and member of the Committee for Excellence in Maternal Healthcare—led the Belgian study, which discovered that unborn children exposed to chemotherapy in the second and third trimesters experienced no adverse effects and “developed just as well as children in the general population.”

Dr. Amant affirms—along with 200 OB/GYNs and 700 other medical professionals—that intentionally taking the life of the unborn child is never necessary to treat women for cancer. In his presentation to the International Symposium on Maternal Healthcare, Dr. Amant outlines various methods of cancer treatment in pregnancy which protect both the mother and child.

Under a personhood amendment, pregnant women will continue to receive the highest standard of care from their doctors.

Contraceptives 

Personhood does not affect contraception. It could not ban contraceptive birth control since contraceptives act to stop a new human being from coming into existence. If there’s no human being, there’s no victim. Opponents of personhood need to prove that any particular form of birth control causes harm to an unborn human being. If certain forms of birth control act to intentionally kill unborn human beings, they should prove it.

During the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case arguments, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other anti-personhood groups confidently argued that the pill, the morning after pill, Plan B, and IUDs do not have abortifacient effects—that is, they do not kill unborn children in the womb. Yet when these same groups oppose personhood laws, they say that these forms of birth control may be affected. So are they lying now, or were they lying then?

IVF 

Amendment 67 does not prohibit the use of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is about creating new human life not destroying it, so it could not be affected by the amendment. If personhood opponents believe there are certain techniques that IVF clinics engage in which violate the rights of unborn human beings, those personhood opponents should specify what those techniques are rather than making unfounded assertions about banning IVF. Personhood would simply require IVF clinics to treat the embryos in their charge ethically and with reasonable care.

Conclusion

It’s despicable that NARAL, Planned Parenthood and other personhood opponents have misled the public about these unrelated issues. Miscarriage and the loss of unborn children from necessary medical treatments are tragic events that should not be politicized. Yet personhood opponents want to lie about and hide behind these tragedies to push their political agenda.

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