the crazy stays confined to the springs (again)

February 15, 2010

Hooray!  It seems Colorado is likely to be safe from another useless attempt to have voters bestow the status and full rights of “personhood” on fertilized eggs.  At least, that’s what folks in the know think:

At a press conference Friday, Personhood Colorado leaders announced they would submit 79,817 petition signatures to state election officials. That’s just 3,770 signatures more than 76,047 required — a slim five percent margin which a local campaign expert says is unlikely to hold.

Tyler Chafee, senior associate with RBI Strategies and Research, said, “There is very little chance that voters will be seeing this measure on the 2010 ballot.”

Good.  I hope they’re right.  It frustrates me how much money and energy was put into a ballot measure in 2008 that wasn’t handled at all honestly. First of all, the campaign to pass the earlier measure was titled “Colorado for Equal Rights.”  Would you think that was about the personhood of a few cells?  Me neither.  Good thing that’s not what the actual ballot measure was called, and it was voted down by a 73% majority.  I’m proud of my adopted state for sending the fundies back to Colorado Springs with their tail between their legs (but nothing else, that’s a sin).

Another, more complex example of the dishonesty of this campaign is that it would eventually result in the classification of many common forms of birth control as murder weapons.  Warning: rant begins after the break.

Had this measure passed, our new chemical warfare agents would be the “abortifacients” (quotes for my disagreement with the label) listed in this pro-life article:

Contraceptives include the so-called barrier methods: the condom, diaphragm, cervical cap, and anti-sperm methods such as the sponge, jellies, foams and creams. These methods prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg.

Abortifacients work after fertilization (conception) by killing the newly conceived human. These include oral contraceptives (the “Pill”), IUD, Norplant, Depo-Provera, Emergency Contraception (the “Morning-After Pill”), and anti-fertility vaccines.

First of all, there is no scientific or moral consensus as to what exactly constitutes “the moment of conception,” or “the moment life begins,” so their classification of contraceptives (those that prevent a sperm and egg from joining) and abortifacients (those that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg) is entirely subjective.  That, however, is a debate many more qualified people have spent tons of energy on, so I won’t go there beyond pointing out its subjectivity.

What I do want to mention, however, is the incredible dishonesty their abortifacient list.  Let’s talk about oral contraceptives first, since they’re so common.  The primary mechanism of these contraceptives is to prevent ovulation altogether, so there’s not even an egg present to fertilize.  Beyond that, they thicken the cervical mucus, thereby providing a sort of natural barrier method by making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg, if one has been released at all.  It is true that a sort of last-resort mechanism by which the pill operates is to make the uterine environment unfavorable for implantation, but it’s really not all that common that the other mechanisms fail.  The article quoted above cites a reference titled “Infant Homicides Through Contraceptives” (now there’s an unbiased medical reference if I’ve ever seen one) to say that it happens fairly commonly, up to 10% of the time.  The truth is that nobody really knows — this sort of thing is pretty hard to study, and I don’t think “Infant Homicides Through Contraceptives” actually is a peer-reviewed article representing the results of a scientific medical study, but it costs $2 to read (another sign it’s not a peer-reviewed article, since those are usually $20+ without a journal subscription), so I don’t think I’ll investigate any further.

All the other hormonal methods listed above — one common type of IUD, Norplant, Depo-Provera, and Emergency Contraception — aim to operate on the same principle, preventing ovulation and/or thickening the cervical mucus, so really their list is pretty dishonest.  “Anti-fertility vaccines” as described in the article aren’t available, so I think it’s just included for shock value.  The only method on their list that is truly designed to work by preventing implantation is the copper IUD (available in the US as ParaGard).  So, that’s a moral decision a woman has to make, and hopefully she’ll continue to have the right to do so.  Personally I’m not bothered by it, since the trade-off is 10 years of thought-and-hormone-free birth control, but I could understand that some women would be.  Luckily (in a way), the IUD has such a bad rap in the US, from the problems that the older versions caused in the 1970s, that anyone seeking to get one gets a huge amount of patient education before a doctor will insert the device, so everyone thinking of getting one will know that they’re choosing to release “sperm-and-egg-killing nanorobots,” as a friend once put it, into their uterus.  By the way, IUDs have nothing to do with nanorobots, and a lot to do with copper ions, but I thought it was funny.

Anyhow, this stuff makes me grumpy.  You might have noticed.  I have no idea why there’s another push to put the same measure back on the ballot, but I’m glad to hear that it’s quite unlikely to succeed in even getting there this time.  As contentious as the abortion debate is, I really don’t want to see the same baggage attached to contraception.


One comment

  1. […] likely that this stupid, stupid, stupid amendment that I’ve ranted about before (see “the crazy stays confined to the springs (again)”) won’t come up for vote this year.  […]

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