Cynical NY Times: Fight for Fetal Personhood Just a ‘Strategy,’ Fetal Pain a Myth

August 24th, 2022 11:53 PM

Are conservatives not allowed to hold genuine beliefs on abortion? The front page of Monday’s New York Times showed the outlet once again reducing actual pro-life beliefs to cynical politics. Reporter Kate Zernike wrote “Is a Fetus a Person? An Anti-Abortion Strategy Says Yes.

“Strategy” is a fascinating word choice, remindful of a May 2004 Times story by religion reporter Laurie Goodstein that reduced the solemn denial of the sacrament to pro-choice Catholic politicians to a cynical political ploy: "The tactic of denying the sacrament has been urged for years by anti-abortion groups like the American Life League, Legatus and the National Right to Life Committee, said Deal Hudson, publisher of Crisis, a conservative Catholic magazine."

Zernike showed her pro-choice bona fides in this story about pro-life activists working to confer personhood to the fetus, dismissing out of hand the idea a fetus can feel pain, yet forwarding bizarre extrapolations from the pro-choice crowd of what such rules might entail, with no criticism.

Even as roughly half the states have moved to enact near-total bans on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, anti-abortion activists are pushing for a long-held and more absolute goal: laws that grant fetuses the same legal rights and protections as any person.

So-called fetal personhood laws would make abortion murder, ruling out all or most of the exceptions for abortion allowed in states that already ban it….

Zernike indulged the more outlandish predictions of the professional pro-choice movement: Fetal personhood would make taking aspirin just like murder!

They have the potential to criminalize common health care procedures and limit the rights of a pregnant woman in making health care decisions.


In Mississippi, medical groups campaigned against the fetal personhood amendment in 2011 by warning that it would criminalize IUDs and other methods of contraception. They also warned about the effects on in vitro fertilization, which involves freezing fertilized embryos and typically implanting several because not all pregnancies will hold. Disposing of unused fertilized eggs, or selectively eliminating implanted eggs, as many aspiring parents do, could result in murder charges….

She allowed GA State Sen. Jen Jordan to warn “that taking legal medications that some doctors advise against using in pregnancy -- aspirin and some antidepressants -- or even failing to secure adequate prenatal care could open pregnant women to prosecution.”

After letting her pro-choice sources extrapolate wildly, Zernike strictly patrolled what pro-lifers were allowed to claim about fetal pain (links included for context).

The Georgia law declares that the “unborn” are entitled to 14th Amendment protection. It also codifies assertions that the scientific literature does not support: for instance, that a fetus has a heartbeat at six weeks of pregnancy and can feel pain at 20 weeks. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists disputes both.

Zernike probed Arizona’s fetal personhood law, currently on hold:

….the state’s law on child abuse applies to anyone who causes physical injury to a child “whether intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently.” The groups say that declaring a fetus a child could lead to abuse charges against women who undergo medical procedures that can harm a fertilized egg, including cancer screening or substance abuse treatment.

Zernike concluded significantly:

“Seemingly far-fetched possibilities too easily become reality,” the National Advocates for Pregnant Women declared in a report on fetal personhood last week.