Personhood* by stealth. The death of freedom in the name of life.
There’s a case currently going thought the British courts , whereby a local authority are attempting to sue the mother of a handicapped child for the consequences of drinking throughout pregnancy.
the local authority is seeking monies from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board on the grounds that the mother “administered a poison”.
Such a move , if successful, will lead to the possibility that drinking , and many other activities , during pregnancy , becoming criminal acts, as laid out in a Telegraph article, here;
And in the Daily Mail, here;
All reasonable, one might assume, if this was purely about protecting foetal health.
Well no. Just no.
For starters, the local authority isn’t doing this out of any concern for the foetus, Or the child that it now is, it’s just an attempt to offload the cost of the child’s future care.
In other words, it’s purely about money.
No altruism whatsoever.
Why “foetal personhood”? Well, as stated in the Telegraph article, a court has already denied the Authority’s action because a foetus isn’t a person and therefore cannot be endangered under the terms of the Act the Authority is invoking.
And , of course , this decision is under appeal.
If the appeal is successful, not only will foeti have been awarded, de facto, personhood, but the actions of pregnant women will have been potentially criminalised.
Women will no longer be autonomous beings , once a double blue line appears.
Now I bet you’re thinking this is far fetched, alarmist, a bit , “reductio ad absurdum” at best, aren’t you?
Back to the blue line. When it first appears , a woman will not (very often) appear pregnant.
So how would it be possible to police the habits of pregnant women without policing the habits of all women of childbearing age, lest they all be pregnant?
Will women have to provide negative pregnancy tests instead of ID when purchasing alcohol?
Will this apply to the purchase of tobacco , or common over the counter pharmaceuticals? Or participating in occupations or sports which require a level of exertion or physical risk?
Or even eating certain foods, such as liver, unpasteurised dairy, or salad?
Will women be subject to frequent invasions of their privacy just in order to carry out their daily activities and pursuits, on the off chance they may be pregnant, and just not know it yet?
Will older women (and some younger, or younger looking) be required to carry certification of proof of menopause? The infertile, the celibate?
That’s without taking into account studies which suggest “unhealthy habits” might affect the production, and genetic quality , of eggs.
In short, will a woman’s fertility , or pregnancy status, be the defining factor in all her daily activities?
Will potential employers find another excuse to refuse women of childbearing age, lest they get sued for “endangering a foetus by proxy”?
So far, inasmuch as such fears already exist, employers are protected, as long as on being informed of a pregnancy, they remove a woman from any situation where she might face risk- such as landing a pregnant sailor, for instance.
However, under personhood, it’s possible that liability could be argued even when a woman hasn’t declared a pregnancy, because she may be pregnant and not aware, unless an employer compels all female employees to undergo monthly pregnancy tests?
Will women of childbearing age be required to sign disclaimers, lest there’s a tiny chance their employment effects ovum quality?
If , as the authority claims, it is just about money, and the interests of the future care if a disabled child, then why is it not attempting to influence legislation regarding how this should be funded, rather than pursuing a vulnerable woman?
All that will happen is that such women, afraid of the consequences, will refuse to seek antenatal care, thus increasing the likelihood of damage to their babies.
Babies that will still be cared for out of the public purse.
And criminalising women, gaoling them? More money from the public purse, before the care of any previous children is accounted for.
There’s another aspect to this. This personhood. If a foetus, by any success of such actions, is regarded as a person under section 23 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 (inasmuch as the mother is alleged to have “maliciously administered poison so as to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm”) then whither reproductive autonomy?
Yes. Abortion. That.
Abortion is legal in the United Kingdom. And rightly so. The 1967 act has received few amendments since it’s passing and no successful attempts at repeal. It remains amongst the most broad scoped and least restrictive abortion legislations in the world.
Allowing such a case, as is being currently fought, purely about money, to succeed , would accidentally place in law a dichotomy which anti abortion groups, such as SPUC, will leap upon with glee.
Because can we expect a situation whereby any alleged “harm to a foetus/pregnancy” through alcohol etcetera, is criminalised, while abortion, which aims to eliminate a foetus/pregnancy, is not, without any challenge to the 1967 act?
In so many ways, when a girl experiences her first menses, she’s vaguely aware that her life is about to change. That childhood is over.
That freedom is over.
Feminism has fought long and hard against the myriad ways in which female reproductive capacity has been used to oppress women , but never before has it faced such a all encompassing attempt to police the bodies of all women of reproductive age.
And finally. Foetal health. This is always best promoted by facilitating maternal health. This cannot work if criminalising the actions of women, pregnant or potentially so, pits a foetus against its host, the mother, and all women of childbearing age.
NB . *Regarding personhood.
Personhood is not a legal term in the UK. If, however , a foetus is granted protection under the “Offences Against The Person Act 1861” , it will, de facto, become a person, equal in rights and protections to any other.