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Personhood Bill seen as threat to fertility efforts

RICHMOND — Fertility experts say Virginia’s Personhood Bill threatens more than just abortion access — it could eliminate the practice of in-vitro fertilization.

The House Bill 1, referred to as the Personhood Bill, would grant constitutional rights to embryos at conception.

“We have concluded that Personhood measures, like HB 1, pose a serious threat to fertility treatments,” said Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association, a national nonprofit that promotes reproductive health based in McLean.

“Experts on reproductive medicine and law have reviewed (the bill’s) language, and they tell us infertility patients will not be protected,” she said.

Collura pointed to in-vitro fertilization, a procedure in which doctors fertilize an egg with sperm and implant it in a woman’s body. The process can result in excess or damaged fertilized eggs, which, she said, could fall under the proposal’s legal protection of embryos.

But the bill’s sponsor, Del. Bob Marshall, (R-13th), said the proposal specifically exempts legal practices, such as in-vitro fertilization.

“I suggest they get new legal counsel, because the conclusions that they are arriving at are a continuation of sideshows that this bill for some reason attracts,” he said. “None of these things have been abrogated by my bill; they are specifically accommodated. This is the third year we have had this bill. There is no effect on assisted reproduction. Period.”
Marshall included a section in the bill that says it would not “(affect) lawful assisted conception.”

Dr. Stephen Latham, director for the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, disagrees. He said that while the law protects medically assisted pregnancy, it does not safeguard the treatments required to achieve it.

“You could paraphrase [Section 7 ] to say that nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting a pregnancy brought about by medical technology, but it doesn’t say anything about whether the section will affect or apply to embryos being handled in the course of the assisting technology,” he said.

Latham said that under the bill’s present language, embryos that are frozen but not implanted, embryos that failed to implant and others lost through medical procedures would be considered the victims of murder, and the medical facilities that attempted the procedures culpable.

He said Marshall’s proposals could meet the criticism by using clearer language.

“This problem looks to me like it is just a drafting problem,” he said. “You could draft a version of this bill that exempted and protected clinics that are doing assisted reproductive techniques.”

Marshall accused the bill’s critics of searching for a solution without a problem, since the process of medically assisted conception is protected by state law and would remain unchanged under his bill.

“I am a little bit suspicious. Are they going to suggest this now is going to require earthquake insurance? I cannot find anything that they are not willing to throw on the wall to suggest that is affected by this bill,” Marshall said.

The Virginia bill is among similar measures nationwide that would define life as beginning at the moment of conception.

Mississippi voters rejected a Personhood amendment to its state constitution in a November referendum, with 55 percent casting ballots against the measure.

The voter rebuke has not stopped other state lawmakers from championing the cause. The Oklahoma Legislature is now weighing two Personhood bills.

Olivia Gans, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, a Richmond-based anti-abortion nonprofit, said she supports the Personhood measure in Virginia and other states.

“We believe very strongly that the lives of unborn children should be valued under the law, that there should be an effort made to acknowledge and recognize their common humanity with the rest of us and, as such, the Personhood bill is a step in the right direction,” she said. 

The bill passed the House, 66-32, on Feb. 15, and the measure has been sent to the Senate Committee on Education and Health, which meets Feb. 24.


Siobhán - BS, American law was based on English law which was based in Roman law pre-Christ and pre-Christianity and had no base in Judaism.

The 1st amendment is about keeping religious ideals separated from government so anything based is religious argument is never going to fly in governance and will lose in a court battle.

Preach as you will, many prefer to minister to those needy individuals already here that tend to be neglected or abused, from neo-natals to elderly and in between.

“We should not have laws based off religious ideals that goes against the ideals of the founding fathers and the 1st amendment.”

@FedUpDude:  Our laws are not based on someone’s “ideals.”  They are based on Mosaic law, about which the Founders (and not just the Founders) were very knowledgeable.

Moses, the Jewish lawgiver, is depicted several times in the stone and marble edifice that is the Supreme Court building, and so are the Ten Commandments. In sculpture, Moses sits as the prominent figure atop the building’s east side, holding two tablets representing the Ten Commandments. And on the wall directly behind the Chief Justice’s chair, an allegorical “Majesty of Law” places his muscular left arm on a tablet depicting the Roman numerals I through X.

Our laws reflect that we are not “pro-choice” when it comes to armed robbery and murder.  We are not “pro-choice” about stealing, slander, rape, and even the abuse of animals.  We instinctively know that these actions are morally wrong. And we instinctively know that the deliberate/deliberate taking of innocent/innocent human life - regardless of its place of residence - is wrong, no matter how much some might try to deny it.  And if you are pro-life, then you must put your money, time, and other resources where your mouth is.

Finally, “pro-life” refers to more than just opposition to abortion on demand. It reflects an attitude and philosophy about the sanctity of human life throughout all of its stages and seasons.  It is no more right to murder a sick, elderly human being or a special-needs child than it is to deliberately end the life of a baby residing in its mother’s womb.

A society that can justify the deliberate killing of its pre-born children for any reason or no reason and at any stage can (and will) eventually justify anything, because in such a society no one is safe. It is a very slippery slope and we’re already on it.

JFK had a very clear understanding and explanation for separation of church and state.

Siobhán - The question is why are they trying the make the law reflect their ideals instead of leaving the law open for all to do what they feel best.

Pro choice is that exactly, non religious or really non Catholics can chose to do as they see fit. Pro life takes the choice away. We should not have laws based off religious ideals that goes against the ideals of the founding fathers and the 1st amendment.

Believe what you will, just don’t expect everyone to listen to or agree with you.  Spirituality is very personal.

“Please stop trying to impose your personal religious beliefs on others”

So what gives you the right to tell someone else what they should or should not do with their religious beliefs?

“Please stop trying to impose your personal religious beliefs on others”

What do you mean by that?  Where did I say I wanted to impose my “religious” beliefs on other?  Please clarify.

Please stop trying to impose your personal religious beliefs on others; it’s not becoming nor wanted!

“In fact, the Bible is very clear about how God views life in the womb (read Psalm 39).”

That should be Psalm 139; David writes that God saw his “unformed body” in the womb:

“13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

“Moses was for aborting children when a woman had been raped and the child was not her husband’s, but it isn’t up to us to prove it to you.”

@Loudoun Mom: When you make a claim that something is fact the burden is on YOU to prove it.

NO such approval for abortion exists ANYWHERE in Scripture, even in the passages in Exodus which specifically address personal injuries. The Bible never specifically addresses the issue of abortion because it was not something the ancient Hebrews would have ever contemplated.  Quite the contrary.  It was assumed that life began at conception.  In fact, the Bible is very clear about how God views life in the womb (read Psalm 39). In fact, Psalm 39 tells us that God knew us before we were even conceived.  The prophet Jeremiah was called by God while he was still in his mother’s womb.  (“Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you; I have appointed you a prophet unto the nations” - Jeremiah 1:5).  John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when Mary came to visit Elizabeth, John’s mother, who was six months pregnant at the time.  John, who was Jesus’ cousin, leaped for joy at Mary’s news of the incarnation (Luke 1: 39-45).

“Most of the bible refers to life not starting until one month out of the womb, so, uh, the personhood thing is bogus.”

There is NO passage anywhere in the Scriptures that supports your statement.  Even our own laws do not support this. If someone deliberately kills an infant under the age of one month they will be charged with murder.  And you may remember that Scott Peterson was charged with murder in the death of his wife AND his unborn son.  You don’t get charged with murder if you haven’t deliberately killed a “person”.

Jeanne, yes, Moses was for aborting children when a woman had been raped and the child was not her husband’s, but it isn’t up to us to prove it to you. If you are so religious, you would know this.  Most of the bible refers to life not starting until one month out of the womb, so, uh, the personhood thing is bogus. It was a pope in the 1880’s who declared life began at conception.  Many cultures today don’t even name babies until they can live for 10 days outside the womb.  Most ancient religious scholars didn’t consider you a “person” until you were actually born.  Besides, the government has no business deciding philosophical arguments.  They need to develop jobs, not worry about my uterus.

@Just a though - Sorry but the one a month law going away is not going to create a export market; only 3 states have that law anymore and states that dropped it have not had increased exports. That bill made a difference before the Brady bill required back ground checks and record keeping but it is useless today.

The limit did almost nothing for export numbers Brady dropped them 75% in this state.

If you want BIG VA to get into yours or others’ pants or bedrooms, invite them on over and have a party!  If you knew anyone that was raped or suffered incest, you might feel differently about forcing them to relive those horrific, demeaning, and debilitating times(s) through state-sponsored rape or actually delivering a child. That would be a real loving exchange. I thank God you’re not our mother or judge.

Contraception is an accepted means of family planning, not to mention useful for many medical problems.  Medical groups and families all over VA were alarmed about many common birth control methods and infertility treatments being outlawed under “personhood.” If you don’t want either of these, don’t take them but don’t take over our rights to them.  I recall the wildest college co-eds being those who lived in the strictest housing arrangements, under the thumb of parents who didn’t trust them to make sound decisions (and lost their kids in the process). Again, I thank God you’re not our mother or judge.

The best you can do is pull a Joe Wilson?

“I am not sure that a government has the right to decide when “life” begins…”

@“not an extremist”:  Then who should decide?

You’ve heard the overused rhetoric
that life begins at birth;
Now they say if you’re not wanted
you have no inherent worth.

When dignity becomes arbitrary
we’re under an evil hex;
Willing to admit our nothingness
for the politics of sex.

“The whole contraception/abortion thing isn’t about saving babies, or going against God.  There are instances of abortion in the Bible (Moses approved of it for birth control purposes), but you would actually have to read the Bible to know that.”

@“Ticked Off Mom”:  Is that so?  Please cite those passages (and I’ve read the Bible) to which you refer.  You lie.

All the self-righteous out there ... I don’t know what God you pray to ... maybe the same God that told GW to invade Iraq. Stop. Just stop.  We don’t need it. We don’t need big guberment telling us what to do, forcing us to participate in commerce by getting our vagis sonared and increasing our healthcare costs. This is 1940’s nazi $hit!!

Ron Paul 2012!!!

Let’ see, yo can have all the guns you want because we believe in freedom, but, if you try to get an abortion, you hva to go through a State mandated rape.  Good thing the Govorner is trying to be a VP candidate, or the Right Wing Nuts would have sanctioned State sponsered rape.

But FedUpDude, side arms, really.  NoVA is not the wild, wild west, Dude…your Dudage.  I was a marksman in the military. I have no problem with hunters.  But creating an export market in VA to other states. Allowing citizens, other than law enforcement, to be armed in plain view of my child.  I’ll agree to disagree with you because this is not the place.  All the best.

I support the resent changes to the gun laws; so do most people that is why where was no uproar about it.

However there is an uproar over these oppressive laws aimed at reproductive rights.

Got news for you messing with guns is as big a loser issue for the (D)s as messing with abortion is for the (R)s in this nation. The majority of the voters are pro gun and pro choice nation wide.

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