Georgia Republican Paul Broun seems to be working as fast as he can to earn the title Official Kook of the United States Congress. Representative Broun hasn’t been in the House of Representatives for very long, but in his short time there, he’s managed to introduce a surprising number of bills that represent a very odd reinterpretation of American life.
H.R. 4157, which Representative Broun refers to as the Sanctity of Human Life Act, might more accurately be entitled the Zygote Political Enfranchisement Act or the Anti-Fertility Act. The legislation has been written by Congressman Broun in order to define a human egg created in the United States from the moment of fertilization, through its development into a fetus ready to be born, as a complete person with full legal rights and constitutional protections equal to that of any other American citizen.
Under Broun’s proposed law, this award of full legal protections to all fertilized eggs, even one created just one minute ago, would be given regardless of the ability of the fertilized egg to implant in a womb and grow to become a baby. H.R. 4157 states this very directly:
“the life of each human being begins with fertilization, cloning, or its functional equivalent, irrespective of sex, health, function or disability, defect, stage of biological development, or condition of dependency, at which time every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.”
A fertilized egg must be given all the legal protections of a person, irrespective of health, function or disability? That means that even if a fertilized egg or blastula (a tiny hollow ball of human cells post-fertilization) is somehow determined to have a terrible genetic disease, it would nonetheless have to be given full medical treatment in order to make sure that it survived to be born. If that treatment was not given, its parents could be criminally charged with child abuse or neglect.
Think about in vitro fertilization, and you’ll see how absurd this new law would be. The way that in vitro fertilization works is that many eggs are fertilized, and then sorted, so that healthy fertilized eggs are separated from the unhealthy ones. Under Paul Broun’s law, the unhealthy fertilized eggs would have to be implanted in a woman’s womb, just like the unhealthy ones. Remember that the law says that “health” and “function” are irrelevant. So, even “fertilized” eggs in which the nucleus of the sperm and egg somehow failed to unite to create a genetically coherent union would have to be implanted in a woman’s womb as if they were viable. Function doesn’t matter, according to Congressman Broun, and even fertilization is defined in his law in such a way that makes the threshold of humanity absurd:
“The term ‘fertilization’ means the process of a human spermatozoan penetrating the cell membrane of a human oocyte to create a human zygote, a one-celled human embryo, which is a new unique human being.”
Yes, according to Representative Broun, all fertilization requires is for a sperm to break through the cell membrane of a human oocyte (egg). Even if the sperm’s genetic material fails to unite with the egg’s, Paul Broun’s law counts the result as a human being with full constitutional rights to equal protection under the law.
The expense of going through full fertility procedures even with fertilized eggs that could never be successfully implanted in a woman’s womb would make in vitro fertilization unattainable for all but the most wealthy American couples. Even for those couples, however, the practical cost could be too much to bear.
Remember that under Paul Broun’s proposed law, all fertilized eggs would have full legal protections. If an in vitro fertilization process created 15 fertilized eggs for a couple, 8 of which could survive as healthy infants if implanted, then all 15 fertilized eggs would have to be implanted, including all 8 viable ones. Those eggs would be human beings with full legal rights, after all. So, either the couple would have to have all 8 children, or they would have to find seven other women who would be willing to adopt their fertilized eggs, going through pregnancy with these children that weren’t their own, and then raising those children to adulthood.
These financial and other practical requirements for in vitro fertilization would end the availability of in vitro fertilization for couples in the United States. Even American couples who went to Canada to have the procedure done could then be charged as murderers upon re-entering the United States.
That makes H.R. 4157, in effect, a bill to ban in vitro fertilization.
Anyone who is aware of the present day issues surrounding fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization realizes that giving a fertilized egg all the legal protections of a person from the moment a sperm breaks through the egg’s cell membrane is absurd. It doesn’t take a genius to see that H.R. 4157 could never be practically applied without creating some extremely bizarre consequences.
Yet, 56 members of Congress are apparently not bright enough to understand these problems. In addition to Paul Broun, 55 members of the House of Representatives support this poorly planned and ideologically extremist legislation. Their names are:
These members of the House of Representatives have all signed on as co-sponsors to H.R. 4157. If you see the name of your Representative here, please, make a telephone call to your Representative’s office through the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask for the cosponsorship to be rescinded.
It’s a matter of simple intelligence. Any member of Congress that cosponsors this H.R. 4157 has indicated either tremendous stupidity or intellectual laziness, and is unfit to serve on Capitol Hill.