Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Will Alabama's abortion law lead to child support, tax breaks, and protection from incarceration for pregnant women, plus Social Security numbers for fetuses?

Are Alabama pro lifers so intent on overturning Roe v. Wade that they really don't care if they are taken seriously? The answer seems to be yes, based on the state's new unconstitutional anti-choice law -- especially when you consider its likely consequences.

Carliss Chatman, an assistant professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has considered those consequences and determined that Alabama is in for a nutty future if a federal court does not overturn the abortion law. Chatman, who studies corporate personhood, corporate governance and ethics, among other legal topics. writes recently at The Washington Post, starting with some background:

Alabama has joined the growing number of states determined to overturn Roe v. Wade by banning abortion from conception forward. The Alabama Human Life Protection Act, as the new statute is called, subjects a doctor who performs an abortion to as many as 99 years in prison. The law . . . has no exceptions for rape or incest. It redefines an “unborn child, child or person” as “a human being, specifically including an unborn child in utero at any stage of development, regardless of viability.”

Chatman seems to come away with the notion that Alabama's abortion law is the result of political gamesmanship, rather than considered, reasoned thought. She writes:

We ought to take our laws seriously. Under the laws, people have all sorts of rights and protections. When a state grants full personhood to a fetus, should they not apply equally?

For example, should child support start at conception? Every state permits the custodial parent — who has primary physical custody of the child and is primarily responsible for his or her day-to-day care — to receive child support from the noncustodial parent. Since a fetus resides in its mother, and receives all nutrition and care from its mother’s body, the mother should be eligible for child support as soon as the fetus is declared a person — at conception in Alabama, at six weeks in states that declare personhood at a fetal heartbeat, at eight weeks in Missouri, which was on the way to passing its law on Friday, but at birth in states that have not banned abortion.

And what about deportation? Can a pregnant immigrant who conceived her child in the United States be expelled? Because doing so would require deporting a U.S. citizen. To determine the citizenship of a fetal person requires examination of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment, which declares, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The word “born” was not defined by the drafters. Presumably, they intended the standard dictionary definition: brought forth by birth. Our dates of birth are traditionally when our lives begin; we do not celebrate our dates of conception or the date of our sixth week in utero. But in states with abortion bans, “born” takes on new meaning. Now legislatures assign an arbitrary time during gestation to indicate when life, personhood and, presumably, the rights that accompany these statuses take hold. This grant of natural personhood at a point before birth brings application of the 14th Amendment into question and may thus give a fetus citizenship rights — but only in those states. There are no laws that allow the United States to deny citizenship rights to a natural-born citizen merely because they reside with, or in, a noncitizen.

Chatman is just getting started with the potential nuttiness. She continues:

Detaining any person without arraignment or trial violates the Constitution and international human rights laws. A fetus has not committed a crime, not been arraigned or charged, not weathered a trial by a jury of its peers, not had the opportunity to confront its accuser. These laws redefining personhood surely mean that a pregnant woman cannot be incarcerated, as doing so requires confining a second person without due process.

Carliss Chatman
If personhood begins in utero, a fetus will need a name and a Social Security number to begin exercising private rights and using public resources. A Social Security number is necessary to claim a child on taxes. It is also a requirement to act on behalf of a child privately, like opening a bank account, buying savings bonds or obtaining insurance coverage. Typically, parents apply for a Social Security number when they obtain a birth certificate, but if states declare that personhood begins at some earlier arbitrary point in time, they will need to provide evidence, perhaps through a life certificate, that this new person exists and resides in their state. Once the life is established, can a mother insure a six-week fetus and collect if she miscarries? Will the tax code be adjusted in these states to allow parents to claim their unborn children as dependents at conception? If so, can a woman who suffers more than one miscarriage in a fiscal year claim all of her children?

Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution requires a census every 10 years to count all persons residing within the United States. If a fetus is granted personhood, it should be included in the count. The census currently asks about the age and date of birth of each household resident. Will it now include the date of conception in select states so that fetuses may be counted? There is the potential to unfairly skew census data and disproportionately apportion representatives and resources to those states.

Chatman, it seems, has put more thought into this than all of Alabama's legislators combined:

These questions highlight the unintended and potentially absurd consequences of sweeping abortion bans. At the heart of the issue is how the 14th Amendment’s definitions of personhood and citizenship should be applied. States have been allowed to define the personhood of unnatural creatures — such as corporations — since very early in our nation’s history. In exchange for this freedom, states are not permitted to go back on their deal. In other words, once personhood rights are granted, a state may not deny life, liberty or property without due process, nor may a state deny equal protection under the law. States have never had the right to define the personhood of people. This was a subject — influenced either by place of birth or by complying with immigration and naturalization requirements — for the Constitution and federal law. State grants of natural personhood challenge this norm.

When states define natural personhood with the goal of overturning Roe v. Wade, they are inadvertently creating a system with two-tiered fetal citizenship. This is because Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey create a federal floor for access to the right to choose — a rule that some ability to abort a fetus exists in the United States. If these cases are overturned, that eliminates only the federal right to abortion access. Overturning Roe would not prohibit a state from continuing to allow access. In a post-Roe world, in states like New York that ensure the right to choose through their constitutions and statutes, citizenship will begin at birth. In states that move the line to define life as beginning as early as conception, personhood and citizenship will begin as soon as a woman knows she is pregnant.

Trying to define citizenship and personhood based on the laws of each state creates some far-fetched and even ridiculous scenarios. If we follow that logic, we’ll tie our Constitution into a knot no court can untangle.


Anonymous said...

If life begins at fertilization, what about fertilized eggs in a -80 degree C liquid nitrogen tank? Are they persons, with rights as well? Oh wait, one of the legislators dealt with that issue, he said since the fertilized egg isn't in the woman's body, it is of no import to this law. All about the baby or all about control of the woman?

Anonymous said...

This post is a hoot. The lifers obviously didn't think any of this stuff through.

Anonymous said...

@7:20 --

Excellent point. Not surprised to learn AL legislator had no answer for it.

Anonymous said...

I love the part where a pregnant woman could not be incarcerated. She could go on a multi-state crime free and get away with it.

legalschnauzer said...

@10:16 --

Good point. To take it a step further, a pregnant woman probably could not even be investigated or arrested by cops. That would be interfering with the rights of the fetus.

Anonymous said...

Hey, debt collectors could not go after pregnant women because it would cause undue stress on fetus and interfere with his civil rights.

I'm starting to like this idea.

Anonymous said...

I guess we all will have to revise our birthdates to a make them about nine months earlier than we thought they were.

e.a.f. said...

if life begins at conception and the state fails to provide adequate health care can the state be charged with negligent homicide. the carrier of the fetus, applies for housing, medical care, food stamps, etc. and all are denied. As the result she is living on the street without adequate medical and prenatal care and lacks adequate nutrition. Miscarriage. In my opinion the state could be sued by the egg and sperm contributors for the state's failure to provide adequate resources. It maybe a torturous legal argument, but I bet with a little "energy" some budding law student could make it. Now in civil cases the evidence required is less than in criminal cases. some of those friends of the fetus may not have thought of any of this stuff.

Can we get more suggestions and then have them sent to these states to inquiry into an opinion on the subject. as in what do the state legislators plan to do to protect these fetuses from ill health, homelessness of the carrier, etc.

perhaps some one could start a lawsuit in one of those states now to see what happens.

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f. --

You raise some fascinating questions, more evidence the state did not think this through.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought. If you believe a doctor is committing sin when he or she performs an abortion....wouldn't that same doctor be committing a sin if he or she makes it possible for a woman to give multiple births? There is nothing natural about giving birth to six or seven or eight babies at one time. Leave the choice to the individual. Your body...your choice..

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought. If you believe a doctor is committing sin when he or she performs an abortion....wouldn't that same doctor be committing a sin if he or she makes it possible for a woman to give multiple births? There is nothing natural about giving birth to six or seven or eight babies at one time. Leave the choice to the individual. Your body...your choice../.

e.a.f. said...

Rachel Maddox's show this evening was addressing some of the new "rules" in Missouri for women requiring abortions. One of them wasn't passed by the state leg. but some new anointed bureaucrat. Not only must women now wait for 3 days prior to getting the abortion, once she requests one, the doctor is now forced to sexually assault her, even though the doctor doesn't want to. this new "rule" in Missouri now requires the doctors to perform a pelvic exam even though it is not necessary, 3 days prior to the abortion. Both patients and doctors are being traumatised by this.

This new rule must be obeyed or there can be no abortion in the last remaining abortion clinic in Missouri. Lets hope, that this information, now that it is public, will create the outrage there was in Virginia, a few years ago.

People need to stop and think about this. Some unelected official (well hired by politicians) is now telling doctors how to conduct their business and in the course of this are requiring women to be sexually assault, traumatised, etc. prior to obtaining an abortion. What if the state decides all women will be required to undergo this procedure on a yearly basis to ensure they haven't had abortions? hey, its not like they can't do it. What if they start requiring men to under go lie detector tests to ask them did any of the women they had sex with have an abortion in the proceeding 12 months? Don't think it could happen. Well have a look at what the Virginia state leg. tried a few years ago and what rule maker has now decided what will happen to a woman's body in Missouri and how doctors will conduct their medical practises.

guess that is why the U.S.A. participated in WW II, so some old dry ball in Missouri can tell women what to do with their bodies. This will not end well. I remember a time in North America when women could not obtain legal medical abortions. Tens of thousands of women died

JayBee said...

Excellent! These states are the reddest,with low benefits of any kind. And since as soon as the kid is breathing most of these states CUT OFF HELP to both, and the federal govt is doing the same, they go from protected to rejected.

JayBee said...

The whole RTL religious rhetoric is a sham. These people don't give a rat's ass about LIFE. They want to shame and control women. RTL would cover the already living, so the death sentence for having an abortion proves their hypocrisy. Sending people to fight wars, letting humans die of illnesses because they're poor, taking away insurance, THE DEATH PENALTY. RTL is just a slogan for slut shaming. These laws are in direct opposition to one of this country's major tenets. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE WAS PUT IN PLACE SO NO RELIGION COULD INFLUENCE OR CONTROL LAW.Of the millions of Americans there are millions of non Christians. These laws violate their rights,too.
If you're against it, don't have one. Your religion doesn't trample other people's rights.

e.a.f. said...

Politico has an interesting article up about why women leave Honduras. Honduras does not permit emergency birth control or abortion under any circumstances, so if you're 10 yrs old and you're raped, you have to go through with the pregnancy. Last year over 800 little girls gave birth in state hospitals. that does not cover those who delivered out of hospital. If you have an abortion, you do to jail, if you don't die during it.

Child birth is one of the greatest killers of females in Honduras. the other is murder by men. So if any one in the U.S.A. is wondering why all those women and children are arriving in the U.S.A., they've been beaten, raped and impregnated, frequently under 12. This is what Trump and his republican thugs are afraid of and won't let into the country as refugees. this is no different from when the Americans turned the Jews away prior to WW II.

I write this also, because this is what can happen in the U.S.A. if women loose control of their bodies and what men will do when they know what they can get away with. Oh, police don't investigate these things much either. Of 400 child rapes only 2 were sent to jail. the mother and child knows when the man is released he will come to kill them. In the meantime, they live in fear of the man's relatives.

You do have to wonder how large the pile of bodies will have to become at the border before the Americans will notice. Women in the U.S.A. might want to take notice. It could be happening in the U.S.A. also, in another decade.

American women currently can go to another state to have an abortion or Canada. what happens in the U.S.A. the day that is outlawed. You'll start living in a country like Honduras.
As major news channels continue with their talking heads and their silly "documentaries" about the decades of the last century, some guy who offed himself and liked to eat, they refuse to report the real news around the world. The media also hasn't done much reporting on the living conditions of adults and children in the AMerican concentration camps. Oh, its so much cheaper to have a talking head wax on about some stupid comment by another politicians, which is handled in other countries in less than a minute. of course it does make money.

e.a.f. said...

In my 7 June 2019, 12:31 a.m. comment I refer to a bureaucrat who is ordering the sexual assault of women needing an abortion. in Missouri. this evening Rachell Maddox explained the Doctor, was previously employed by the State of North Carolina. He isn't there any longer. He mandated polluted drinking water, which was known to have carcinogens in it, was just fine to drink and removed the order to not drink. Saw him being interviewed on t.v., omg, the guy looks like one of those creeps who'd like to do all the pelvic exams himself. if doctor, drink carcinogens in your water is now in charge of things in Missouri, things will not end well. Perhaps someone ought to let him experience a "pelvic exam", just so he knows what these women are going through. He'd probably love Honduras.

Anonymous said...

You can already claim an unborn baby on your taxes if it’s born in the same 12 month window as that tax year. And unborn babies count toward family size calculations under several government programs.