Beginning in late January 2009, a phalanx of “patriots” initiated a campaign decrying tyranny and loss of freedom because an African American man occupied the Oval Office even though they are incapable of citing even one freedom they lost under Barack Obama’s presidency. After contraception coverage was included in the Affordable Care Act, led by Catholic bishops, a cry of loss of religious freedom became popular that meant right wing Christians were disallowed from imposing their bible-based beliefs on the rest of the population. It turns out there is a segment of the population who have lost their freedom due to tyranny, but it originates with Republicans at the behest of Catholic and evangelical personhood advocates.
In the ultimate loss of freedom, women seeking to carry their fetuses to term and deliver them vaginally are, under court order, being arrested, their fetuses seized, and forced to undergo caesarian (surgical) deliveries against their wishes because according to religious fanatics, the rights of a fetus supersede those of the mother. It is the greatest expression of Christian tyranny, and it is being wholly supported and enforced by Republicans giving religion power over the life of a mother in violation of her Constitutional and reproductive rights. The Dark Age Christian crusade is the work of Personhood USA, and their goal is subjugating women according to their understanding that a person is the moment of conception, even though their bible defines life as when god breathes air into a baby’s lungs.
For the uninformed, personhood gives a single-celled zygote 14th Amendment rights that supplant those of the mother carrying the organism. In more than half the country, religious Republicans are attempting to amend state constitutions granting personhood to zygotes, and in the United States Congress, several Republicans sponsored personhood bills under the moniker, “Sanctity for Human Life,” but in their perverse interpretation, sanctity for life is reserved for a fetus. The group behind the movement, PersonhoodUSA claims “to glorify Jesus Christ in a way that creates a culture of life so that all innocent human lives are protected by love and by law,” unless the innocent life happens to be the mother. The effect of personhood laws exceed pro-life advocates’ attempt to deny a woman the right to choose her own reproductive health, and they have been depriving pregnant women their right to liberty, bodily integrity, medical decision-making and even life. It is the ultimate loss of freedom under cover of religious liberty, and another example of religious tyranny escalating against women as America declines into a theocracy.
In several states, theocracy forces mothers to undergo surgical intervention to deliver their fetuses under cover of PersonhoodUSA’s “protecting innocent human lives.” In one case a doctor decided a woman’s fetus was too big and that she needed Caesarian surgery; the woman declined and opted for natural delivery. The hospital ruled the rights of the fetus outweighed those of the mother, and secured a court order giving them custody of the fetus before, during, and after delivery with the right to force the mother to undergo major surgery without her consent. While in active labor, Amber Marlowe “fled” to another hospital where she was admitted and delivered a healthy baby without major surgery.
In Clarksville Maryland, Angela Carter was 25 weeks pregnant and diagnosed with cancer, and with her husband, parents, and doctors in agreement chose to keep herself alive as long as possible to deliver the fetus. The hospital called an emergency court hearing to determine the fetus’s rights, and the court ruled the rights of the fetus outweighed the life of the mother and ordered a forced-Caesarian surgery despite warnings it could kill Carter and the fetus, which it did.
In Jacksonville Florida, Laura Pemberton wanted to deliver her fetus naturally after previously giving birth by C-section and was at home in active labor when a state attorney and sheriff took her into custody, strapped her legs down on a gurney, and transported her to a hospital where she was forced to have Caesarian surgery against her will. When Pemberton argued in court that her right “to informed medical decision-making, bodily integrity, due process, and liberty had been violated,” the court told her that fetal rights outweighed hers. Pemberton went on to have three additional children naturally and without complication.
In Salt Lake City, a woman who gave birth to twins, one of which was still born, was arrested and charged with murder based on the claim she chose not to have a Caesarian operation two weeks earlier. The state justified treating the stillbirth as murder and cited a recently amended feticide law that “protects life from the moment of conception” which is PersonhoodUSA’s contention. Melissa Ann Rowland was charged with “depraved indifference to human life” according to court documents, prompting a BYU law professor to say, “It’s very troubling to have somebody come in and say we’re going to charge this mother for murder because we don’t like the choice she made.”
These horror stories go on and on and portend dangerous times for women as PersonhoodUSA gains national Republican support in their aggressive campaign to grant zygotes 14th Amendment rights. A new report documents hundreds of cases of women who were charged, imprisoned, and forced to undergo major surgery in spite of their wishes. It is alarming that although personhood amendments have been defeated by voters in the states, Republicans have quietly established separate legal “personhood” for a fertilized egg, embryo, and fetus that are being used regularly to arrest, detain, and force surgical intervention on pregnant women.
There are tyrants in America robbing women of their rights and freedoms, and they are Christian conservatives adhering to the biblical edict that women subject themselves to a religious Republican man’s will. It should be a warning to all Americans that to evangelical Christians, religious liberty means legally forcing edicts on the entire population, but especially on women who, according to Republicans, have less rights than a zygote.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.