The North Dakota House of Representatives has passed the first personhood amendment in the United States, 57-35. Read more
Has Personhood already gone too far? A look at NAPW’s report on forced interventions for pregnant women.
A recent study published by the pro-abortion group National Advocates for Pregnant Women blames arrests and forced interventions on Personhood ideology, pleading for people who “value pregnant women” to “work together against personhood…so women can be assured that on becoming pregnant they will retain their civil rights.”
The study is timely, as the Alabama Supreme Court ruled just last week that chemical endangerment laws apply to children in utero, specifically affirming the personhood rights of unborn children.
As a woman in my child-bearing years, of course I have a vested interest in assuring that all women, including myself, retain civil rights during pregnancy. So I took a deeper look at the report, titled “Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States”, which was published this week in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law.
I did a little reading on the NAPW website before I began, and I was unpleasantly surprised by an unrepentant vow to protect the rights of “drug-using women”, going on to assert that "you cannot have a culture of life if you do not value the women who give that life” (or death, apparently). The author and NAPW Executive Director Lynn Paltrow has worked for some of the most dangerous foes of children in the United States, including Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.
There are several problems with this study, including false assertions about Personhood Mississippi’s 2011 amendment and an admitted use of news articles where hospital records weren’t available. Many of the cases are tragic. Many are appalling. But a good number are drug-related. When should law enforcement, or child protective services, intervene?
Should a woman have the right to decide where and how to give birth to her baby? Should she be able to decide which medical interventions, if any, she wishes to receive? Yes, she should.
Should a woman be able to use cocaine and methamphetamines, making her child an addict who will suffer horrible withdrawals after birth? No, she should not. Personhood USA believes that the line is drawn at intentionally harming the child. But NAPW disagrees.
Is the information in this study correct? Possibly. The treatment of the pregnant women outlined here in many cases is horrendous, and the actual data may be correct. But the findings and conclusion are so far off base, and so based on personal bias, that it makes the study nearly impossible to take seriously.
The study is not surprising, but it is based upon two incorrect premises: first, that a woman should be able to do whatever she wishes during pregnancy with no consequences, and second, that recognizing the value and rights of the child is harmful to women.
By assuming that personhood amendments promote the rights of the child above those of the mother, the authors draw various incorrect conclusions. The fact is (as has been determined by numerous legal and medical professionals), a personhood amendment requires that both mother and child be treated as patients. For example, if a mother is undergoing cancer treatments, the baby should be monitored and treated as a patient as well. If a woman is suffering a life-threatening condition and the baby must be delivered via c-section to save her, it is permissible to do so while doing everything possible to save the baby’s life. The Dublin Declaration in 2012 determined that it is never medically necessary to abort (intentionally kill) the child to save his mother’s life.
Recognizing the personhood of the child is not dangerous to his mother. In fact, countries where abortion is illegal enjoy the world’s lowest maternal mortality rates. It is critical that we recognize that the problem in the cases where there truly is unnecessary government involvement is not personhood, but rather an illegal application of laws that already exist.
The personhood of the child in the womb is dangerous to groups like NAPW because they seem to believe that there is NO case in which a woman should be prosecuted for endangering her child in the womb, and there is NO restriction on abortion that is permissible. Our wealthy enemies – Planned Parenthood, NOW, NARAL, and NAPW – will not suffer any regulations or restrictions, including those well-intentioned restrictions to make clinics “safer”. With a zero-tolerance policy for any abortion restriction whatsoever, of course personhood is loathed by these adversaries of human life, and made into a scapegoat.
While there are certainly clear cases of violations of mother’s rights, there are also very clear cases where a woman intentionally harmed herself, thus harming her child. Recently, the Alabama case of Amanda Kimbrough made headlines. Kimbrough admitted to smoking crystal meth three days before her baby, Timmy, was delivered at 25 weeks. After his birth, he lived for only nineteen minutes before dying of methamphetamine exposure. Should there not be a voice for Timmy? Should the state ignore his death instead of seeking justice?
Therein lies the problem: to Lynn Paltrow and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, babies are little more than human garbage. Far from being true advocates for pregnant women, the NAPW seeks to dehumanize the baby, the very human being whose existence makes his or her mother a pregnant woman. The devaluing of human life is a disservice to mother and child.
Shameful as they are, these pro-child endangerment positions are consistent. As abortion advocates, I suppose it would be hypocritical for them to say that abortion is acceptable, but forcing your baby to be a meth addict is not. After reading the official positions of NAPW and their “study”, I believe that the name ‘National Advocates for Pregnant Women’ is disingenuous. Perhaps the name ‘National Advocates for Child Abuse’ is more fitting.