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March 04, 2024 03:13 PM UTC

Race to the Bottoms: Personhood, IVF, and Prosecuting Women for Abortions

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: As expected, Bottoms’ “personhood” bill failed to make it out of committee.

 Republicans are in dangerous place, politically-speaking, on the issue of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and so-called “personhood” legislation that seeks to give a zygote the same rights as a walking, talking human being. Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Scott “There is No” Bottoms did not get that memo (we mean that literally and figuratively — there was an actual memo).

Today in the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee, Colorado lawmakers will hear debate on the latest “personhood” approach as conceived by Rep. Bottoms (which would also criminalize IVF). Opponents of abortion rights have never had a very good answer for the question about whether or not you should prosecute a woman for seeking an abortion. That’s not to say, however, that some of these opponents don’t have an answer at all.

As The Los Angeles Times writes in an editorial today:

Since Roe vs. Wade was overturned, more than a dozen states have introduced personhood bills bestowing legal rights upon fetuses or embryos, or both. Legislators in Iowa and Colorado have introduced bills that would define personhood as beginning at fertilization and subject to the state’s homicide, wrongful death and assault laws — with no IVF exceptions…

…Abortion foes have been trying to shift the storyline, with a slew of new state laws, from punishing pregnant women to championing innocent fetuses, which is an easier sell to the public. [Pols emphasis] Even Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker, in his concurrence, waxed on about how “even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory.”

While personhood laws define an embryo or fetus as having legal rights, state fetal homicide laws vary in how broadly they consider fetuses and embryos as potential victims. Some don’t say anything about abortion. Others exclude it. California’s murder statute extends to killing a fetus if it is done maliciously. But it specifically excludes abortion or any action taken by a person carrying the fetus.

If we’re going to talk about “abominations,” let’s start with that sweater.

Representative Bottoms is also a “Christian” pastor at a Colorado Springs church, and he loves to talk about politics in his sermons (yeah, we know). Here he is on February 11 talking about his “personhood” legislation and his anger that people don’t agree with him that women should be punished for seeking an abortion [Feb. 11 Sermon, start at 1:08:55]:

SCOTT BOTTOMS: You know, the pushback I get the strongest — from everybody — Democrats, Republicans, all these different groups. You know, the strongest pushback I get for that is from the pro-life groups. ‘We will not allow you.’ We will not be a part of anything that makes the mother guilty. This is not this is not the leftist [groups]. These are the pro-life groups.

And here 100% of the time, If the mother would not have an abortion, we would not have abortions. Now, I understand there are certain circumstances, I get this. It’s a tiny, tiny percentage, but there are certain circumstances where the mother truly is a victim of the whole thing. I get that. But I think you can figure that out in adjudication. [Pols emphasis]

To just say the mothers are not guilty? Guys, that’s got to stop. But this is why we’ll never, ever…we’ll never, ever overturn abortion in America. Ever. Because your pro-life groups are fighting the strongest. When do we just hold people accountable?

There you go: State Rep. Scott Bottoms saying that all women who seek abortions should be charged with a crime of manslaughter or murder, even in cases of rape or incest.

Just yesterday, in his most recent sermon, Bottoms repeated this claim [March 3 Sermon, start at 50:30]:

SCOTT BOTTOMS: The question is, if it’s personhood and they have the same 14th Amendment rights that all people have, then wouldn’t the mother be in trouble if she has an abortion? And the answer is yes.

That’s twice in the last three weeks that Rep. Bottoms has declared, unequivocally, that women should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law if they have an abortion.

House Bill 24-1224 is expected to be debated at length this afternoon. It will almost certainly then be killed off by the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee…but not before Bottoms and bunch of other Republicans say a lot of really awful things out loud that will do them no favors in 2024.


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