I call them the Fantastic Four. No, not Marvel’s famous superhero family. These are four embryos, a product of my in vitro fertilization, that are currently housed in a freezer.
I actually produced five eggs as a result of the procedure but my medical professionals only deemed four viable. Under a bill currently in the works by two Georgia state lawmakers, the act of my clinic discarding that unusable embryo could be considered murder, and my surviving molecular children would be guaranteed the same constitutional protection that I enjoy.
The “personhood” referendum, as it is often called, proposes a state constitutional amendment stating that life begins at fertilization. Thus, legal protection would begin at fertilization as well. Simply, a fertilized egg would be defined as an adult person.
If all this sounds familiar, that’s because a similar referendum failed just a few months ago in Mississippi. Opponents there said that measure would have deterred physicians from performing in vitro fertilization, because they would fear criminal charges if an embryo doesn’t survive.
They also were concerned that birth control like the morning-after pill would be made illegal, and that women would be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies, including those caused by rape or incest.
The bill here in Georgia is sponsored by state Sen. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) and Rep. Rick Crawford (D-Cedartown). Similar referenda will appear on ballots this November in Florida and Montana. In nine additional states, including Georgia, initiatives or referenda to restrict women’s reproductive rights may appear on the ballot.
So let’s get right to purpose of the so-called Personhood movement: to take down Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. But why should we as gay people care about Roe vs. Wade?
To be certain, lesbians and bisexual women can still be victims of sexual assault, and some may have unwanted pregnancies from having sex with men. Still, abortion is less of an issue for our community than for heterosexuals.
But if this law passes, it is guaranteed to draw legal challenge and will ultimately arrive at the door of the U.S. Supreme Court. This time, with a Supreme Court growing more conservative, personal rights in this court could finally reach their end. And if that day comes, one way or another, all of us will suffer.
You limit a straight woman’s right to choose, you limit all of our right to choose — about anything. We can’t ask our straight sisters to defend our rights as gay women and men and not grant that same willingness to fight for their rights in return.
I find it fascinating to see the constant attention paid to politics when it is a presidential election year. What we all need to realize is the real power in our everyday lives falls in the hands of our local politicians. Often, they take advantage of the shadow cast upon them by the bigger names in Washington and attempt to pass laws, like the Personhood referendum, under our noses without much fanfare or opposition.
Whether Barack Obama is a left-wing socialist or Mitt Romney is a right-wing robot doesn’t matter as much to me as knowing a woman’s right to choose is being thrown on the chopping block in my back yard.
Marvel’s Fantastic Four are comic book heroes, but mine too could help save the day for Georgia. In vitro fertilization has been the collateral damage in this movement. The irony is the fact that the act of making a family will be damaged if these efforts pass.
By serving as conservative obstacles in Georgia, my little frozen ones are already following in their activist Mom’s footsteps.
Melissa Carter is former co-host of “The Bert Show” on Q100, where she broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in the city and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Keep up with her at www.melissatimes.com.