CSI: zygote

Republicans won—but not when it came to a woman’s right to choose

Everyone spun results the day after the election, but it was surprising—make that astonishing—to read that Americans United for Life claimed the 2010 midterms were a huge win for the “pro-life” side of the abortion debate. Astonishment because, despite Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives, on the whole returns were pretty good for reproductive choice and freedom, especially in California.

Locally, Andy Pugno’s Assembly loss and Dave Jones’ insurance commissioner win means that women’s health and choices will be considered when health-care reform is put to work in California. Then there’s our once-and-future governor, Jerry Brown, who’s always been pro-choice.

And the no-abortions-no-way-not-ever crowd lost country-wide as well. Their Tea Party candidates (Nevada’s Sharron Angle, Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell and Colorado’s Ken Buck) all bit the bullet.

But the biggest right-to-life-camp loss was Colorado’s “personhood” initiative, which would have conferred legal status as a person on a fertilized egg. It went down in flames; voters rejected it by a 3-to-1 margin.

You’ve got to wonder what the Colorado measure’s proponents really thought would happen had it passed. After all, it takes just a few episodes of Law & Order to understand that an amendment granting a zygote the same legal status as a child would be a train wreck.

For instance, wouldn’t that mean that any end of a pregnancy—miscarriage, medical or surgical termination, or just a late period that finally arrived—would make the uterus a crime scene? Would they make teeny-tiny, yellow plastic tape to mark it off? And who would do the CSI honors: your primary-care doctor, your gynecologist or some state-agency technician? Would you really want some civil servant poking around in your lady parts while you’re still having cramps?

Most women of child-bearing age that I know would sooner bite someone’s head off than allow this.

Imagine the process. The owner of said uterus—you know, a woman—would be interrogated. It gives “Just the facts, ma’am” a whole new meaning: What did you eat and when did you eat it? Been riding any horses lately? Have there been any unusual visitors or suspicious people hanging around the neighborhood?

I’ve noticed that anti-abortion activists seem to run out of answers when asked what sentence a woman should serve for seeking or having an abortion. But women are being jailed in Nicaragua for seeking or obtaining abortions, and laws like the one defeated in Colorado are keeping them incarcerated.

Think about it: Someone who can’t tell the difference between a zygote and a 3-year-old—or a zygote and a fetus, for that matter—won’t have any problem with swearing out a warrant to search your uterus.