Don't Spill That Semen!

When does a cell become a person? That's been widely up for debate with the "personhood" movement, whose goal is to "protect the pre-born" by passing state laws and amendments that define that first moment of sperm-egg contact as full personhood.

But why stop there? Why not before the two cells meet?

The handwritten semen amendment.

Over in Oklahama, state legislator Constance Johnson—my new hero—has introduced an amendment to the state's "personhood" bill that states that "any action in which a man may ejaculate or otherwise deposit semen anywhere but in a woman's vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child." Here she explains why:

The Personhood bill would potentially allow governmental intrusion into families' personal lives by policing what happens to a woman's eggs without any similar thought to what happens to a man's sperm.

My amendment seeks to draw attention to the absurdity, duplicity and lack of balance inherent in the policies of this state in regard to women.

Over at Religion Dispatches, scholar and well-known Catholic pro-choice advocate Frances Kissling offers some tongue-in-cheek theological commentary:

.... The creator, the bible tells us, knew each of us before we were "knit" in the womb. He knew the very sperm and egg that would unite to make us who we are. Given that reality, it is imperative that we all have as much sex as possible....

The fact that God chose not to tell us which of our eggs and our sperm would join means that a celibate priesthood and sisterhood must be ended. Each priest and nun knows not what God intended for their eggs and sperm and therefore, procreative sex is essential lest we prevent the person already known to God from coming into being.

I await the response of the Catholic Bishops' Conference.

In related news, don't miss Adele Stan's extremely important investigative analysis at AlterNet, explaining the politics behind the Republican primary candidates' full-force rejection of contraception:

Everywhere you look, birth control is under attack, most notably by all of the candidates competing for the Republican presidential nomination. To advance the cause, the candidates are allied with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has cleverly framed its war against women as an issue of religious freedom—a talking point that the candidates, especially frontrunner Mitt Romney and the second-place Newt Gingrich, have jumped on.

For the Republican base, with its antipathy to what it calls "Obamacare," the controversy over birth control is quite perfect. That base, as it exists today, is largely composed of the religious right, which stands in opposition to women's equality, and the Tea Party movement, which was organized by political operators in opposition to the healthcare reform legislation that became law in 2009 as the Affordable Care Act.

At a deeper level, though, the appropriation of the bishops' position by the Republican candidates is the full-flower expression of what might be called the Romanizing of the Protestant right—a cross-pollination of convenience between historically opposed factions of Christendom, a phenomenon that has unfolded with little fanfare over the course of the last three decades.

Read the rest here.