CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A proposal to inflict felony prison terms on West Virginia doctors and nurses who help end pregnancies after 20 weeks was sponsored in this year's legislative session by Delegate Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, and other conservatives. Luckily, House Bill 2364, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, died in committee.
However, Republicans in Washington are stampeding the same measure nationally through the U.S. House of Representatives. It cleared the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, and may get a floor vote next week. Two Democratic female House members said the GOP has "decided to reignite its war on women."
Meanwhile, tea party groups and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., are mobilizing a nationwide campaign to persuade Congress to pass the Life at Conception Act, which would declare every microscopic fertilized human egg a "person" entitled to the same legal protections as real people. An all-out lobbying-advertising-speaking-writing drive is planned.
If this bill passes, a desperate teen who ends a pregnancy, along with doctors and nurses who help her, would be guilty of murder. It would negate the historic 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that gave women the "right to choose."
The bill is backed by fundamentalists and conservative theologians who contend that a human soul is created at the instant a sperm penetrates an egg.
Rep. Paul supposedly is a Libertarian who stands for minimal government intrusion into people's lives. So why does he want the government to control the bodies of women and girls against their wishes?
We hope West Virginia's members of Congress help reject this extreme proposal, which would bring bizarre complications.
For example, it's estimated that one-fourth to one-half of all pregnancies spontaneously miscarry, usually in early weeks. Many females never know that they were pregnant. Perhaps 1 million such terminations occur in America yearly. Under the proposed law, each loss should be listed as a U.S. death and issued a death certificate -- but that would be impossible, since nobody can count them.
One health report says:
"There are 60 million women and girls of childbearing age (15 to 44) in the United States. About 70 percent of these women are sexually active, and 95 percent of those use some form of birth control. Pregnancy statistics show that each year about 6 million women and teens get pregnant. Half of these pregnancies are unplanned .... About 4 million of these pregnancies result in live births, and 2 million pregnancies are lost .... Over half of those lost pregnancies are due to abortion ... and 30 percent of diagnosed pregnancies are lost due to miscarriage."
These figures are somewhat speculative, since great numbers of undetected pregnancies spontaneously miscarry, without anyone's knowledge.
To declare all these fertilized eggs legal "persons" entitled to citizenship protections would be a bewildering mess. Therefore, Congress should ignore the lobbying blitz and scuttle the bill.
There's something strange about "pro-life" zealots who care more about fertilized eggs than they care about desperate teenage girls.