THE BLOG
10/28/2016 05:49 pm ET Updated Oct 29, 2017

Reproductive Servitude? Joe Heck's Anti-Woman Personhood Bill

The word "servitude" is defined as "slavery: a condition in which one lacks liberty... to determine one's course of action or way of life"--Merriam-Webster

Hold that thought.

As you know, the Nevada Senate race is perhaps the most important in the nation. On it hinges control of the Senate.

Republican Joe Heck wants to take Harry Reid's soon-to-be vacant Senate seat in Nevada. Minority leader Reid, retiring after a lifetime of public service, supports a strong Democrat, Katherine Cortez Masto, who would become the first Latina Senator in American history.

Katherine Cortez Masto is a progressive Democrat: when she becomes Senator, she intends to raise the minimum wage, protect Medicare and Social Security, and overhaul the immigration issue, with a path to citizenship.

When she served as Attorney General, Cortez Masto was fearless, going after big banks and forcing a settlement of $1.9 billion in mortgage relief to Nevadans.

And, of course, as a modern woman and a Democrat, she supports women's rights.

But her opponent, Joe Heck?

Joe Heck is a "personhood" supporter.

"Personhood" is the bizarre belief that every fertilized human egg must have full protection under law. This is, of course, nonsense. Unless implanted and grown on the walls of the womb, a fertilized egg is just a microscopic dot of tissue, which women often shed unnoticed on their monthly cycle. How can the contents of a sanitary napkin be considered as important as a fully-grown person?

But perhaps this is just his private belief, a little strange, like believing the world is flat-- but with no practical affect on the rest of us?

Unfortunately, no.

Joe Heck has co-sponsored legislation--H.R. 374, the "Life at Conception Act"-- which would impose personhood on every woman in America.

Heck's bill would guarantee "equal protection...for ... each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including fertilization..."

The idea springs from something said in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.

"If this suggestion of personhood is established... right to life would then be guaranteed..."--U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

If personhood prevails, freedom of choice is out the door. Personhood would criminalize abortion at any stage.

If every fertilized egg must be "protected"-- allowed to come to full pregnancy and birth-- the woman has no choice in the decision at all: she is a human incubator.

She can no longer "determine her course of action or way of life"; is that not "a condition in which one lacks liberty"?

To my mind, personhood is a form of slavery: reproductive servitude.

There are numerous other possible consequences, if personhood becomes law.

What if a couple wanted to have a child by the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) process? Under personhood, this would almost certainly be illegal. In the IVF procedure, eggs and sperm are brought together in a dish of salt water. Typically fifteen to twenty blastocysts are made: the strongest one or two is implanted in the hopeful mother's womb.

But what about the left-over blastocysts? Store them forever (at a fee), or give them away--or dispose of them? If a fertilized egg is considered an actual person, would not disposing of him/her/it be murder?

Some personhood authorities consider IVF should only be allowed if every blastocyst was implanted, as the "Octomom" demanded, whereby she ended up with 8 children at one birth: a situation many would not find desirable.

Birth control pills? Some personhood experts consider the widely-used pills to be "abortifacients", equivalent to an abortion, which again would be illegal under a personhood law like Joe Heck would impose.

Embryonic stem cell research (ESC) offers the possibility of curing many terrible diseases and disabilities: spinal cord injury paralysis, heart disease, blindness, diabetes and more. But such research would be against the law under personhood. Why? The procedure employs tissue cells left over from the IVF procedure.

Briefly, then, what would America lose, if Joe Heck imposed his personhood law?

1. A woman's freedom of choice, currently guaranteed under Roe v. Wade;
2. A couple's building of their family by the IVF method;
3. The right to use birth control pills;
4. The hope of cures through embryonic stem cell research and therapy.

President Barack Obama recently visited Nevada, where he spoke about the Republican candidate for the United States Senate :

"What the heck? What the heck? Heck, No!"

Don C. Reed is the author of "STEM CELL BATTLES: Proposition 71 and Beyond: How Ordinary People Can Fight Back Against the Crushing Burden of Chronic Disease", available now at Amazon.com.