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Personhood Protects the Disabled

"What more dramatic confirmation could we have of the real issue than the Baby Doe case in Bloomington, Indiana? The death of that tiny infant tore at the hearts of all Americans because the child was undeniably a live human being — one lying helpless before the eyes of the doctors and the eyes of the nation. The real issue for the courts was not whether Baby Doe was a human being. The real issue was whether to protect the life of a human being who had Down's Syndrome,


who would probably be mentally handicapped, but who needed a routine surgical procedure to unblock his esophagus and allow him to eat. A doctor testified to the presiding judge that, even with his physical problem corrected, Baby Doe would have a "non-existent" possibility for "a minimally adequate quality of life" — in other words, that retardation was the equivalent of a crime deserving the death penalty. The judge let Baby Doe starve and die, and the Indiana Supreme Court sanctioned his decision.

Federal law does not allow federally-assisted hospitals to decide that Down's Syndrome infants are not worth treating, much less to decide to starve them to death. Accordingly, I have directed the Departments of Justice and HHS to apply civil rights regulations to protect handicapped newborns. All hospitals receiving federal funds must post notices which will clearly state that failure to feed handicapped babies is prohibited by federal law. The basic issue is whether to value and protect the lives of the handicapped, whether to recognize the sanctity of human life. This is the same basic issue that underlies the question of abortion. . .

The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life? The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother's body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law — the same right we have."

President Ronald Reagan, 1983

"Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person." Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer, May 20, 2009

A Personhood Amendment would be the first step in establishing ethical paramenters that protect human dignity in the 21st century.

(July 31, 2010, in a non-binding statewide vote, the majority party of Georgia voted with a super-majority (66%) in favor of ratifying a personhood amendment to the Georgia constitution. This is the first statewide personhood referendum ever to pass. The educational and political value of having done so is paying dividends to this day.)


ETHNE Talking Points and Press Release

Georgia Right to Life  Introduces Legislation to Protect the Mother and Child Impacted by In vitro Fertilization.

For Immediate Release: February 17, 2009

For Further Information: Dan Becker  678-524-9504
Lawrenceville, GA: 

Georgia Right to Life today announced the filing of The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act in the Georgia Senate-SB 169.

It is apparent from the recent birth of octuplets to a southern California woman, that the fertility industry needs governmental oversight.  This industry is one of the most lucrative medical fields and among the least regulated.  In response to this need, Georgia State Sen. Ralph Hudgens along with other co-sponsors in the Senate leadership have introduced legislation that will place limits on the creation and transfer of embryos produced by In vitro fertilization (IVF). 



This bill is written to help reduce the attendant harm that could come to the mother and her children through the creation and implantation of more embryos than is medically recommended by industry watchdog groups like the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology” says Daniel Becker, President of Georgia Right to Life. 

“This bill would limit the number of embryos transferred in any given cycle to the same number that are fertilized, up to a maximum of three. This bill is similar to the same common-sense regulations passed in other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy” said Becker. 

Georgia Right to Life supports Sen. Hudgens in this legislation and wants to see strong protections in place to stop the dangerous practice of implanting more embryos than is medically recommended, so as to prevent the high risk of multiple gestations, premature births and babies with low birth weight for their gestational age.  

Currently, the law requires that fertility clinics report their success rates to the Center for Disease Control (CDC.) By focusing on “success” the clinics are pitted against one another when marketing their services. “Due to a ‘for profit’ motive this can result in a serious compromise to the standard of care for the women and the children involved” says Daniel Becker, President of GRTL.
“Now is the time to develop regulatory oversight that would protect our women and children and provide legal protection to embryos as living human beings and not as property,” concludes Becker.

Georgia is the first state in the nation to file this legislation.  However, in Britain they have similar legislation, passed in 2004, that protects the embryo and the mother from these harmful practices.

State Personhood Efforts

The original goal of the pro-life movement during the 20th Century was the enactment of a Paramount Human Life Amendment (HLA) to the U.S. Constitution. Former President of National Right to Life, Dr. Jack Wilke, in his 1979 book Handbook on Abortion,established that the secondary goal of the movement should be to enact a Paramount Human Life Amendment at a state level.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states may find more expansive rights for the benefit of their citizens than are found under our U.S. Constitution. Constitutional Personhood attorney, Mr. Robert Muise says,"Additionally, the proposed constitutional amendment (Georgia) explicitly affirms, as a matter of state law, that “personhood” attaches at the moment of fertilization. It is a well-established principle of law that States possess the right to adopt their own constitutions with rights more expansive than those conferred by the federal constitution.


See Prunyard Shopping Ctr. V Robins, 447 U.S. 74, 81 (1980) ( “affirming “the authority of the State to exercise its police power [and] its sovereign right to adopt in its own Constitution individual liberties more expansive that those conferred by the Federal Constitution”). And the right to life is the most basic and fundamental right, since death forecloses “the right to have rights.” See Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, 290 (1972) (Brennan, J., concurring)."

 

NATIONAL GROUPS

National Personhood Alliance

Personhood Education

Personhood USA

 

A list of state efforts to promote Personhood:

 

Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos

The Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act - GA SB 169

HISTORY: The bill is based upon a bill passed in Louisiana in 1986. The Louisiana bill establishes all in vitro embryos as "juridical persons". There has been NO legal challenge to it in 23 years. The language has been updated to reflect changes in biomedical technology and medical standards since 1986.


NEED: It is apparent from the recent birth of octuplets to a southern California woman, that the fertility industry needs governmental oversight. This industry is one of the MOST lucrative medical fields and among the LEAST regulated! This results in a serious compromise to the Standard of Care for the women and children invloved. With Bio-tech industries coming to Georgia, NOW is the time to develop regulatory oversight that would protect our women and children.


OBJECTIVES:
1.To recognize all human embryos as having the legal right to life and legal protection under the laws of the State of Ga. 

2.To provide that it shall be unlawful for any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than 
fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm. 

3.To provide for standards for physicians and facilities performing in vitro fertilizations.

INTENDED CONSEQUENCE: In the interest of reducing the risk of complications for both the mother and the transferred embryos, including the risk of preterm birth associated with higher-order multiple gestations, a person or entity performing in vitro fertilization shall limit the number of embryos created in a single cycle to the number to be transferred in that cycle, thereby preventing what has recently occured in California with the woman who bore octuplets.

LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS:
1. Nothing in this article shall be construed to affect conduct relating to abortion; provided, however, that nothing in this article shall be construed or implied to recognize any independent right to abortion under the laws of this state.

2. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to create or recognize any independent right to engage in the practice of in vitro fertilization or to create in vitro human embryos by any means. 

Contacts:
Daniel Becker    President                          Georgia Right to Life            678-524-9504
Mike Griffin         Legislative Director         Georgia Right to Life            706-436-2646 

 

Langauge of GA SB 169

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT To amend Chapter 7 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to the parent and child relationship generally, so as to provide for a short title; to provide for definitions; to provide that it shall be unlawful for any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm; to provide that it shall be unlawful or any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create a human-animal hybrid, to transfer a human embryo into a nonhuman womb, and to transfer a nonhuman embryo into a human womb; to provide for standards for physicians and facilities performing in vitro fertilizations; to provide for judicial standards; to provide for related matters; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:

SECTION 1.

This Act shall be known and may be cited as the "Ethical Treatment of Human Embryos Act."

SECTION 2.

Chapter 7 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, related to the parent and child relationship generally, is amended by adding a new article to read as follows:

ARTICLE 4

19-7-60.

For purposes of this article, the term:

(1) 'Donor' means an individual from whose body gametes were obtained, or an individual from whose body cells or tissues were obtained for the purpose of creating gametes or human embryos, whether for valuable consideration or not.

(2) 'Gamete' means an egg (oocyte) or sperm.

(3) 'Human embryo' means an organism with a human or predominantly human genetic

constitution from the single-celled stage to approximately eight weeks development that is derived by fertilization (in vitro or in utero), parthenogenesis, cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer), or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells.

(4) 'In vitro' means outside the human body.

(5) 'In vitro fertilization' means the formation of a human embryo outside the human body by union of human egg(s) with human sperm.

(6) 'In vitro human embryo' means a human embryo created outside the human body.

(7) 'Transfer' means the placement of a human embryo into the body of a woman.

(8) 'Valuable consideration' means financial gain or advantage, including cash, in-kind

payments, reimbursement for any costs incurred in connection with the removal, processing, disposal, preservation, quality control, storage, transfer, or donation of human gametes, including lost wages of the donor, as well as any other consideration.
(9) ‘Human animal hybrid’ means any of the following:
            (a) A human embryo into which a nonhuman cell or a component of a nonhuman cell is introduced so that it is uncertain whether the human embryo is a member of the species homo sapiens;
            (b) A hybrid human-animal embryo produced by fertilizing a human egg with a nonhuman sperm;
            (c) A hybrid human-animal embryo produced by fertilizing a nonhuman egg with a human sperm;
            (d) An embryo produced by introducing a nonhuman nucleus into a human egg; 
            (e) An embryo produced by introducing a human nucleus into a nonhuman egg;
            (f) An embryo containing at least haploid sets of chromosomes from both a human and a nonhuman life form;
            (g) A nonhuman life form engineered with the intention of generating functional human gametes within the body of a nonhuman life form;
            (h) A nonhuman life form engineered such  that it contains a human brain or a brain derived wholly from human neural tissues.

 19-7-61.

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm.

(b) The creation of an in vitro human embryo shall be solely for the purpose of initiating a human pregnancy by means of transfer to the uterus of a human female for the treatment of human infertility.  A pregnancy shall not be initiated with the intention of deliberately destroying the embryo for scientific research.  Neither shall the embryo be gestated to the fetal stage for purposes of destroying the fetus in order to harvest tissue stem cells for research. No person or entity shall intentionally or knowingly transfer or attempt to transfer an embryo into a human uterus that is not the product of fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm.
(c) It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly:
         (1) Create or attempt to create a human-animal hybrid;
         (2) Transfer or attempt to transfer a human embryo into a nonhuman womb;
            (3) Transfer or attempt to transfer a nonhuman embryo into a human womb;
            (4) Transport or receive for any purpose a human-animal hybrid or any product derived from such hybrid.
(d) Nothing in this section prohibits any of the following:
         (1) Research involving the use of transgenic animal models containing human genes;
         (2) Xenotransplantation of human organs, tissues, or cells into recipient animals, including animals at any stage of development prior to birth, so long as the xenotransplantation does not violate a prohibition in division (c) of this section;
         (3) An individual from receiving organs, tissues, or cells delivered from outside of this state.

19-7-62.

No person or entity shall give or receive valuable consideration, offer to give or receive valuable consideration, or advertise for the giving or receiving of valuable consideration for the provision of gametes or in vitro human embryos. This Code section shall not apply to regulate or prohibit the procurement of gametes for the treatment of infertility being experienced by the patient from whom the gametes are being derived.

19-7-63.

The in vitro human embryo shall be given an identification by the facility for use within the medical facility. Records shall be maintained that identify the donors associated with the in vitro human embryo, and the confidentiality of such records shall be maintained as required by law.

19-7-64.

(a) A living in vitro human embryo is a biological human being who is not the property of any person or entity. The fertility physician and the medical facility that employs the physician owe a high duty of care to the living in vitro human embryo. Any contractual provision identifying the living in vitro embryo as the property of any party shall be null and void. The in vitro human embryo shall not be intentionally destroyed for any purpose by any person or entity or through the actions of such person or entity.

(b) An in vitro human embryo that fails to show any sign of life over a 36 hour period outside a state of cryopreservation shall be considered no longer living.

19-7-65

A.        Any person, employer or entity, whether public or private, has the right not to participate in, and no person, employer or entity, whether public or private, shall be required to participate in any health care service that violates its conscience. No person, employer or entity, whether public or private, shall be held civilly or criminally liable, discriminated against, dismissed, demoted, or in any way prejudiced or damaged because of a refusal for any reason to participate in any health care service that violates its conscience.

 B.        For purposes of this code section:

(a)       "Conscience" means religious, moral or ethical principles.

 (b)       "Health care service" means any phase of patient medical care, treatment or procedure, including, but not limited to, the following: patient referral, counseling, therapy, testing, diagnosis or prognosis, research, instruction, prescribing, dispensing or administering any device, drug, or medication, surgery, or any other care, treatment or procedure.

(c)        "Participate" means to counsel, advise, provide, perform, assist in, refer for, admit for purposes of providing, participate in providing, pay, contract for, or otherwise arrange for the payment of, in whole or in part any health care service or any form of such service.

 19-7-66.

In the interest of reducing the risk of complications for both the mother and the transferred in vitro human embryos, including the risk of preterm birth associated with higher-order multiple gestations, a person or entity performing in vitro fertilization shall limit the number of in vitro human embryos created in a single cycle to the number to be transferred in that cycle in accord with Code Section 19-7-67.

 19-7-67.

(a) Where a woman under age 40 is to receive treatment using her own eggs or embryos created using her own eggs, whether fresh or previously cryopreserved, at the time of transfer no person or entity shall transfer more than two embryos in any treatment cycle, regardless of the procedure used.

(b) Where a woman age 40 or over is to receive treatment using her own eggs or embryos created using her own eggs, whether fresh or previously cryopreserved, at the time of transfer no person or entity shall transfer more than three embryos in any treatment cycle, regardless of the procedure used.

(c) Where a woman is to receive treatment using donated eggs or adopted embryos, no person or entity shall transfer more than two donated eggs or two adopted embryos in any treatment cycle, regardless of the woman's age at the time of transfer and regardless of the procedure used.

 19-7-68.

In disputes arising between any parties regarding the in vitro human embryo, the judicial

standard for resolving such disputes shall be the best interest of the in vitro human embryo.

 19-7-69.

All facilities providing assisted reproductive technologies shall, at least 24 hours prior to

obtaining a signed contract for services, provide patients with informed consent as required by law and obtain a signed disclosure form before services commence. In addition to medical risks and information on outcome and success rates, the informed consent materials shall state in plain language the parental rights and duties of the donors, as well as their legal rights and duties regarding the disposition of in vitro human embryos that were not transferred due to either of the fertility patient's death, divorce, abandonment, or dispute over the custody of the in vitro human embryo.

19-7-70.

Nothing in this article shall be construed to affect conduct relating to abortion as provided in Chapter 12 of Title 16; provided, however, that nothing in this article shall be construed or implied to recognize any independent right to abortion under the laws of this state.

 19-7-71.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this article to the contrary, nothing in this article shall be construed to create or recognize any independent right to engage in the practice of in vitro fertilization or to create in vitro human embryos by any means.

19-7-72.

(a) Any person or entity that violates any provision of this article and derives a pecuniary gain from such violation shall be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $1,000.00.

(b) Any violation of this article shall constitute unprofessional conduct pursuant to Code Section 43-34-37 and shall result in sanctions increasing in severity from censure to temporary suspension of license to permanent revocation of license.

(c) Any violation of this article may be the basis for denying an application for, denying an application for the renewal of, or revoking any license, permit, certificate, or any other form of permission required to practice or engage in a trade, occupation, or profession.

(d) Any violation of this article by an individual in the employ and under the auspices of a licensed health care facility to which the management of said facility consents, knows, or should know may be the basis for denying an application for, denying an application for the renewal of, temporarily suspending, or permanently revoking any operational license, permit, certificate, or any other form of permission required to operate a medical or health care facility."

SECTION 3.

This Act shall become effective upon its approval by the Governor or upon its becoming law without such approval.

SECTION 4.

All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

 

Personhood Law Would Protect the Infirm

 

"Adolf Hitler in the late 1930s started the T4 Aktion (Action) program, named after the main office's address at Tiergartenstrasse 4 in Berlin, to exterminate "useless eaters," babies born with disabilities. When any baby was born in Germany, the attending nurse had to note any indication of disability and immediately notify T4 officials - a team of physicians, politicians and military leaders. In October 1939 Hitler issued


a directive allowing physicians to grant a "mercy death" to "patients considered incurable according to the best available human judgment of their state of health.

Thereafter, the program expanded to include older children and adults with disabilities, and anyone anywhere in the Third Reich was subject to execution who was blind, deaf, senile, retarded, or had any significant neurological condition, encephalitis, epilepsy, muscular spasticity or paralysis. Six killing centers were eventually established, and an estimated quarter-million people with disabilities were executed . . .Princeton University bioethicist Peter Singer says, 'Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person.'
"

The Washington Times, November 23,2008

A Personhood Amendment would be the first step in establishing ethical paramenters that protect human dignity in the 21st century.