By Ross Peter Nelson
Derek Skees, who views himself as a modern-day Moses bringing the Tea Party commandments to a subservient Montana populace, is poised to do some significant damage to the rights of women in this state. This session, he’s sponsored HB 595, a bill that is not only unconstitutional, it’s an affront to liberty. The intent of the bill is to grant “personhood” to an egg immediately upon fertilization.
Obviously targeting abortion, this bill would have enormous repercussions by granting Montana citizenship to a single-cell. Once again, a straight white male is attempting to force his particular religious perspective upon the entire female population and exert control where it is unneeded and unwanted. Not only is this Taliban-like policing un-American, it would penalize plenty of people who actually want kids.
Typically, only 50% of fertilized eggs properly attach to the uterine lining and begin to develop. Of those that do develop into a pregnancy, 15-20% of those end up in miscarriage. Thus, the majority of successful fertilizations do not lead to the birth of a child in the best of circumstances. If those eggs are considered persons, then each one would require a potential criminal investigation into causes of death, to prove that it hadn’t been “murdered.”
People trying to conceive via in vitro techniques would face also much more difficulty and expense if every fertilized egg in the petri dish was considered a person, especially given the statistics above, which that the majority of them would not come to term.
Aside from all the pain and suffering this law would cause, the bill is clearly unconstitutional. For one thing, it violates the right to privacy, for another, it violates the establishment of religion clause, as not every religion considers a fertilized egg equal to a child. Finally, we know it’s unconstitutional by prior example. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma (a very conservative state) struck down a similar bill in 2012, so if it passes, Montana taxpayers will be funding a bunch of lawyers to fight for a lost cause.
For someone who claims to love and to have studied the Constitution, Skees, has a pretty checkered history. The last time he was in the state legislature back in 2011, he introduced a “nullification bill” purporting to give a hand-picked committee the ability to override the federal government. He apparently never read Article VI.2, in which the Constitution specifically calls out federal law as binding to the states, and “the supreme law of the land.”
Unfortunately, this time he’s got a number of additional Republicans who are also more than happy to demand that women bow to their dictates, and the bill has passed the House and is on its way to the state Senate. Use this link to, and let them know you oppose HB 595.
Ross Peter Nelson is a playwright whose avocations include photography, hiking, and politics. Bio: https://rosspnelson.