New anti-choice organization: Personhood USA

Pam lets us know about a new anti-choice organization that’s sprouted out of attempts to define fertilized eggs as people.
Apparently the defeat of the Colorado amendment made anti-choicers think it would be a fantastic idea to take their failed state initiative nationwide.

A new pro-life organization, Personhood USA, plans to assist local pro-life groups in different states to put personhood amendments on their states ballot by using the petition process.
The 17 States that allow citizens to place constitutional amendments on ballots will be the target states. Personhood USA will also help with opinion petitions to encourage politicians to run personhood amendments in other states. During the Colorado Personhood campaign, organizers were contacted by individuals in many different states with excitement and the desire to start personhood efforts in their own state.
“Praise Jesus! The pro-life tide is rising in America, now is the time for the entire pro-life movement to turn the focus off from permitting murder but attempting to ‘regulate’ it, to pushing for the recognition of the God given right to life for all innocent persons. Persons are humans beings from the moment of fertilization.” Cal Zastrow, Co-Founder of Personhood USA.

Um…yeah. Good luck with all that. Perhaps a creepy video will help…

PUSA Promo (Web) from Endfallow on Vimeo.
Ladies, did you know that your uterus is shaped like AMERICA? Yeah, I didn’t either. I’d write more about the pathetic attempts by anti-choicers to limit women’s reproductive freedoms, but my Texas is cramping like a mofo.
P.S. This is what a fertilized egg looks like. Yeah.

Join the Conversation

  • Jake N.

    I love grassroots activism, and I applaud these people for actually trying to do something about things they perceive to be unjust, but COME ON!
    This argument seems to be all about definitions, and both sides are pretty unyielding as far as changing their own personal interpretations of the definitions. We’re at a stalemate, and I personally don’t see how people can think it’s okay to mandate these choices so definitely, especially when these definitions seem to really only stem from religion and not reason.
    It just frustrates me that people on the right try to make abortion into such a big issue! For the people who are actually getting them done, it’s not a political choice. It’s not a way of sticking it to the Man or protesting against the religious right.

  • joyfuldinosaur

    What they forgot to add was the bottom line:
    Warning, terms and conditions may apply. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness only guaranteed if not born female.

  • Femimax

    Okay, this is stupid.
    I’d like to say that I am Pro-choice, AND pro-life. That was a shout out to all the “pro-life” activists who have the nerve to accuse those who support women’s rights of being somehow “anti-life”.
    And by the way, I don’t see them protesting the harvesting of chicken eggs for breakfast. Caviar is sacrilege! Heh.
    “A person is a person, no matter how small”… Yeah, and a woman who DOESN’T want to spend nine months of her health rearing an unwanted child is a person, *too*.

  • johanna in dairyland

    I like how they took losing ALL the anti-choice ballot initiatives as a sign that the “pro-life tide is rising.”
    Okay then.
    Notice how they emphasized the word “empower,” and had it repeated over and over again by women? I guess this means feminism is so successful that anti-feminist initiatives have to co-opt our language and imagery to try to sell their cause … for some reason, I don’t find that comforting.

  • spirina

    Um..I’m pretty sure pre-born babies, are not actually out of the mother’s womb yet and are therefore not babies…they are fetuses.
    Also, defining “pre-born babies” as humans is extremely problematic not just from the abortion standpoint- what about women’s rights to engage in dangerous activities while pregnant (like driving, or anything that could potentially harm the fetus)?

  • ministan

    What it needed was a little CG fetus in the womb at the end there going “and ME!” in a voice like the fly/man trapped in the spider web at the end of the original version of “The Fly.” That would have won me over for sure!

  • Sothenna

    So if a pregnancy causes a woman to die, can the “pre-born baby” be charged for murder, or at least manslaughter? If they’re a person with the same rights, doesn’t that also necessitate the same responsibilities and prohibitions (like say…killing)?
    Does that mean that pregnant women who drink will be charged with providing alcohol to a minor?
    If a pregnant woman smokes pot, will the fetus be charged with possession?
    Do women have to report a potential murder every month when they get their period? How exactly do the police go about “collecting evidence” on that one?
    Seriously, when does this insanity end? Defining a fetus as fully human with full legal rights opens a huge barrel of worms that I don’t think these pro-life groups understand. The legal system would come to a screeching halt if these laws ever passed, as every woman would have to prove every month that she hadn’t been pregnant and therefore didn’t miscarry (and thus isn’t guilty of murder or manslaughter). And that’s not even counting how absolutely offensive the legal system would treat women who have fertility problems and have to compound murder accusations with the fact that they just miscarried…again. The stupidity of this train of thought never ceases to amaze me.
    P.S. I love the picture of the “pre-born baby.” (aka, fertilized egg.) It definitely has its mother’s purple color, but I think that circle-line thing must have been inherited from its dad… :P

  • nifty50

    I have never understood how those who identify as “pro-life” reconcile their beliefs with support for the death penalty. Maybe I’ve always skipped over this in the past–but I now see it is about “innocent” life. Hmmm.

  • Seth

    I want to know what happened to “created equal.” Did they rewrite the Declaration of Independence and forget to notify the rest of us?

  • jocelyn_claire

    Indeed. How long did women have to fight for “personhood”? If we had known that all we had to do was be fetuses all along… how much suggerage would it have saved the rest of us? Arg….

  • eyes_wide_open

    The funniest thing about this propaganda was its old-timey appeal! LOL @ the 50s-style countdown and “classic” spool-fed film quality. Smacks of tradition, doesn’t it? Though why anyone would be nostalgic for the social climate of the 50s…
    Empowering “pre-born” babies necessarily disempowers women. How can the “and me” chorus of women at the end of this ad be persons if their rights are appropriated by a diploid cell after a sex act? Some personhood. IMHO, being a “person” does not mean being a person-shaped receptacle for sperm or a vaguely humanoid fetus-transport-and-delivery device.

  • T-Monster

    I agree with you, but I always find this argument kind of flimsy. Animals are not people. Most of the world kills and eats animals on a regular basis, and if you’re talking to any religious anti-choicers they’re likely to give you the “God put animals on the earth for our sustenance” argument. Animals are not considered the same kind of life as people. The issue is, as you said, that this “personhood” line ignores that women are- yep, persons.

  • BornSlippy

    Any use of the term “pre-born” in seriousness always makes me feel nauseous, because it speaks of an ideology that is too easily linked ton one where all fertile women are functionally classified as “pre-pregnant”.

  • AnUnfunnyFeminist

    Did they rewrite the Declaration of Independence and forget that anything living inside and off of a woman isn’t all that independent?

  • Hara

    What is said and done in the name of Jesus, in the name of God- it’s sickening.
    I’m so tired of ignorant, misogynist communities that would put an embryo’s rights before a woman.
    Every sperm is not sacred.
    These asses push for something so ridiculous,
    and meanwhile, women die from illegal abortions all over the planet.
    Aren’t women person’s too?
    Aint I a human?

  • Elena

    Am I the only one who thinks a fetus is just a parasite?

  • Lydia Encyclopedia

    My Texas is cramping like a mofo… Hahaha!
    Dear me though, when will this “definition” madness end?

  • saraeanderson

    I totally cracked up when I heard someone was going to spend money trying to pass this in Colorado. Ha ha, they LOST!

  • Cicada Nymph

    I’m sorry, I have no idea what a “pre-born baby” is. These made up terms and definitions are intended to be blurry and confusing. As soon as a sperm meets the egg is that a “pre-born baby”? Silly me, I always thought the scientific term was zygote. If the people in this video are so concerned about a “culture of death” then I hope they are also working hard to protest the Iraq war and certainly not supporting politicians who are pro-war. I also hope they support environmental standards to reduce the toxins in our environment that cause cancer and disease. I would respect pro-lifers a little more if they ever actually picked up a genuine science book and used valid terminology.

  • hotpinko

    an egg (like, the breakfast kind), is not a chicken. not even if it’s fertilized. how is this not clear?

  • Mariella

    was i the only one that was a little creeped out by the “we will not rest until all 50 states recognize”… it was like they were declaring war on us

  • teacherwoman

    Look at the way the name is presented: it almost resembles the font/logo of Planned Parenthood.

  • Rick

    This personhood argument really frightens me.
    If we took these people at their word, they believe that the US government is complicit in a domestic genocide that kills millions every year.
    I genuinely don’t see how someone could believe that and recognize the legitimacy of the US government, or be a patriot.

  • Blue

    “A person is a person, no matter how small”.
    Y’know, I really get angry every time they co-opt this line. “Dr. Suess” and his wife have made it abundantly clear that they do not support the use of this line by pro-lifers, and that it does not mean what they would like it to mean.
    Also, it’s a stupid line for their cause anyway. I mean, seriously? One look at a detailed, pictorial, fetal development chart will completely crush any notion that the only difference between a baby and a zygote/embryo/fetus is size.

  • nestra

    Please, please, please stop with the ‘this is what a fertilized egg looks like, those silly people trying to protect that’ argument! By implying that something that doesn’t look human can not be human and not therefore not subject to legal protection, you run into some logic problems when you are talking about something that does look human.

  • CynicalDilettante

    This comment was fantastic and did a great group of drawing out the slippery slop legislation like this would set out.
    Here’s my issue: There are a lot of objectively smart people working behind campaigns like this. Do they not understand how this process works? That because Roe v. Wade was a Supreme Court decision, overturning it involves getting a supreme court ruling to overturn it, or a constitutional amendment. Any state amendments like this would be immediately challenged and simply not upheld.
    It breaks my heart that the money that goes into these campaigns could truly be used to combat a culture of death–gun violence, the death penalty, juvenile crime, genocide abroad–and yet it gets caught up in campaigns like this that are all (very weird) style and no substance.
    I’ve been trying to sort out where my beliefs come from on this issue recently, and I’ve realized that I simply cannot vote for a candidate who refuse to be pro-life only as it concerns a fetus. We have poverty, unemployment, and violence in this country; unwanted babies who would be born with a ban on abortion would emerge into a hellish world where no one could adequately care for them. I don’t understand why religious groups can’t just do this to be “pro life.” I have a crazy aunt who votes solely against abortion, but I’ll be damned if the lady didn’t once take in a woman she convinced not to have an abortion and help her get back on her feet. If one person can do it, and stop focusing on the legal issues of abortion, I think more can. Safe, legal, and RARE–why can’t we all just agree on this?
    (My thoughts continue on, but I don’t have the energy. Everyone, great comments, let’s keep the dialogue going!)

  • Blue

    “Animals are not people. ”
    Some animals ARE people, because people are definitely animals!
    “Animals are not considered the same kind of life as people.”
    Perhaps not. But what is it that makes people, people? Is it not their thoughts, feelings, their personality? These are all qualities lacking in zygotes, embryos, and fetuses until at least 26 weeks gestation – when activity can first be detected in the cerebral cortex. Frankly, it seems like flimsy reasoning to me that one could be considered a person before one has any awareness of any meaningful kind – that given to us by an active cerebral cortex. This is what makes me think about animals – the chickens and cows we put on our dinner plates are more aware, more person-like, than zygotes, embryos, or fetuses. Unless all you care about is DNA, and that just makes no sense at all to me.

  • Blue

    Don’t spend too much time worry about “innocence” – they don’t. If they did, they’d be the biggest anti-war hippies ever, because we all know you can’t have a war without killing innocent civilians.
    Also, it is fun watching pro-lifers tangle with the idea that a fetus can neither be innocent nor guilty – since it lacks that pesky ability to act with intent. I have yet to get an answer out of one about this – usually they just flat-out deny that this matters. Our laws, however, definitely say it does.

  • Blue

    But hey, if fetuses are the unborn, that makes the rest of us the undead! Isn’t that fun? MMMMM … BRAAAAAINS… ;)

  • Blue

    Eh … technically, a parasite is one species living off of another species. But we can say that the relationship between an embryo/fetus and the woman who carries it is parasite-like. :)

  • miki_mouse

    I think it was in the comments in another thread (I believe on this site) that someone pointed out whether the term pre-born made any sense grammatically. They used the example that when you use ‘pre’ before a verb, it means that the verb has already been performed (pre-paid, pre-cooked, pre-made etc). They are using it as if it was before a noun (pre-school, pre-war etc). When you think about it in that sense, their word use is quite funny!

  • doctorpsycho1960

    Mariella, they did declare war upon the United States decades ago. So far, they are losing, but we have to keep standing firm against them.

  • Blue

    Oh, I don’t think so, nestra. The appearance of a fertilized egg is just meant to illustrate exactly how insane it is to call it a person. Appearance isn’t everything, but it is a component. Really, shouldn’t even the most basic definition of a person include a person-like physique? There are definitely other arguments for keeping abortion legal – the most important will always be women and their rights as people. But that doesn’t mean we can’t point out what a ridiculous extreme position the other side has taken.

  • Cedar

    The pro-birthers are so blinded by this imagined “right to life” that they believe there’s nothing more to life than not being dead.

  • Ariel

    I never thought about it that way. That makes me giggle to no end!

  • BornSlippy

    As a huge fan of the zombie genre, I give your comment major thumbs up. :D

  • yamiblue990

    a embryo is technically a parasite since it requires the woman(or man as the case may be) to carry and support all of it’s needs such as oxygen, nutrition, shelter. and yes that is always what i’ve considered a embryo to be. i don’t wish to have one living off of me till a long time from now if at all. besides i know if one did happen to me, i would either have to drop out of college or possibly hand it over to it’s grandma to help raise it.

  • AnUnfunnyFeminist

    That video doesn’t show a fertilized egg. It shows a naked white baby in the fetal position. But the point of that video was to put personhood amendments like the one in Colorado on other state ballots, which would call for fertilized eggs to be recognized as legal persons. I think that was the point of posting a picture of a zygote.

  • manifestadestiny

    I’m so impressed with the witty and logical arguments I’m reading here; I feel strengthened by them. You’re all goddesses in my book–thank you.

  • eyes_wide_open

    I think the point is that the “doesn’t look human to me” argument is a dangerous position for anyone. We can say that for any number of reasons a zygote or fetus does not meet the criteria for “legal person” but when we reduce our position to “we obviously it doesn’t look like a human, therefore it isn’t a human, duh” we are painting ourselves into a corner. First, because this position is no more defensible than is their assertion that a soul enters the picture from the moment of conception; second, because this argument is reminiscent of other oppressive lines of argumentation. In our very recent past, disabled persons were considered less human by virtue of their looks or behaviour. People with different anatomical structures are routinely denigrated and discriminated against based on their physical appearance. We could easily draw a parallel between the “well, children who have ichthyosis do not look as human as do other children” and “well, that fetus doesn’t look human to me.” It’s not that the fetus does look human, but that we should be cautious about how we define “human.”

  • Megs

    I Love Love Dr Seuss…so I’m with you in that just utter disdain of his awesome book being used as an arguement for anti-choicers…

  • Megs

    Okay in the words of my little sister O. M. G. this is ridiculous…does anyone find it ironic that they speak of putting the decision (choice) back into the people’s hands to protect these “pre-born” babies…btw I’m a pre-graduated teacher but they won’t let me teach…
    what they are basically saying is that people can choose as long as they choose what they want…but if anyone disagrees with their righteousness(but then again who would argue I guess once a woman gets pregnant she has fulfilled her personhood, and therefor should be glad, no matter her age, her health, or desire to be a parent, because all women want children…right?) then they are corrupt…
    oh and the woman holding the baby at the end…was it me or did she look uncomfortable…

  • MaggieF

    Children are innocent. Once you reach puberty, and certainly once you have sex, “innocence” disappears. Thank Augustine for criminalizing sex, and thank the Victorians for fetishizing childhood.

  • Mags

    My favorite thing about the phrase “pre-born baby” is this: What does it mean if you buy a chicken “pre-cooked”? If they really came pre-born, no one would ever have to have an abortion.

  • Mags

    What they really mean is “pre-birth”. But I’m perfectly content to point and snicker about pre-cooked chickens while they go on saying it the wrong way ;)

  • Tiana Johnson

    This is what I’ve been trying to say all along! I’m not having an abortion, I’d just like my “pre-born baby” removed from my uterus. If it can’t survive on it’s own, well that just sounds like a personal problem.
    That being said, this seems like the perfect opportunity to mention my grassroots effort to institute the celebration of Conception Days instead of Birthdays. Obviously because life begins at conception.

  • Tiana Johnson

    P.S. If they’re going to demand rights, the least they could do is demand actual rights. The pursuit of happiness is not a guaranteed right. It’s life, liberty, and property that are guaranteed rights. Except the right to life, liberty, or property are only guaranteed to those persons born or naturalized in the United States. Which, if my thinking is logical, “pre-born” persons would not qualify under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

  • gracie-bird

    the defenseless…
    the voiceless…
    the central nervous system-less…

  • gracie-bird

    the defenseless…
    the voiceless…
    the central nervous system-less…

  • aideenjohnston

    Good point, I never even thought about that! I just thought they were being hip, arty and pretentious…