Eli Reshef MD
“Sell crazy someplace else- we’re all stocked up here!” (Jack Nicholson, As Good as it Gets, 1997)
“It has been said numerous times that the definition of insanity is to repeat the same actions over and over again expecting a different outcome. If that axiom is true, the pro-life movement may be standing at the precipice of a mental illness.” This statement was recently made by Operation Rescue, one of the most vocal anti-abortion movements in U.S. history. It refers to its mission to halt abortion that was hijacked and mangled by extreme elements so much so that the last election and opinion polls have clearly shown diminished support for the movement by the American public.
Case in point: the Personhood movement. It is considered by many anti-abortion organizations as loose cannon that has undermined their message. Its aim is to stop all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, by according any biological entity from a fertilized egg and beyond the legal status of a born person. Personhood amendments and ballot initiatives have been presented in state legislatures since 2008. Many of those were not supported by Pro-life movements because of their questionable constitutionality and broad unintended consequences. This is the third year in a row that Personhood has been forced on the Oklahoma legislature. In this upcoming 2013 legislative session, HB 1029 repeats almost verbatim a demand for Personhood seen in the past two sessions. All national and local Personhood initiatives so far have failed miserably, yet certain lawmakers persist to present them, dividing their own camp and creating ill will and rancor in the process.
Such disruption of the legislative process is unconscionable or even outright (see above) insane. In Oklahoma, we have more vital priorities than to debate a divisive, poorly constructed, unconstitutional issue that threatens, if passed, to drag us into the dark age of diminished reproductive choices and a downright embarrassment for our great state. Personhood legislation will eliminate in vitro fertilization as a vital treatment for infertility. Physicians like myself would be unwilling to handle fertilized eggs in the laboratory for fear of harming a “person.” Certain contraceptives, such as the “morning-after” pill, would be banned under the assumption that they prevent the implantation of a “person” into the uterus.
Last year, the Oklahoma House of Representatives was bitterly split by the Personhood debate. It was not a chasm across the partisan divide but Republicans vs. Republicans. Common sense finally prevailed after even the authors of the Personhood bill realized the host of unintended negative consequences to the health of Oklahomans if it passed. Concomitantly, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a Personhood ballot initiative unanimously as unconstitutional.
So what part of “unconstitutional”, “senseless”, and “hopeless” do those legislators that still support Personhood not understand? I hope that the new Speaker of the House, who last year was so fed up with the tactics of the Personhood movement, sends the Personhood bill to the shredder where it belongs. We’re all stocked up here!
Dr. Reshef practices medicine in Oklahoma City.