Would-be Republican presidential nominee Newt Gingrich has come under fire for floating the idea of a national “fetal personhood” measure similar to the one recently defeated in Mississippi.
During the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Iowa last month, Gingrich said he would support a national personhood bill, which would define life as beginning at the moment of conception.
“Part of what I would like to explore is whether or not you could get Congress to pass a law, which simply says, ‘Personhood begins at conception,’ and in the same law you could block the court and say, ‘This law will not be subject to review,’” Gingrich said. “You would therefore not have to have a constitutional amendment because the Congress would have exercised its authority under the Fourteenth Amendment to define life and to therefore undo all of Roe v. Wade, for the entire country.”
But critics argue that defining life from the moment of fertilization, as personhood proponents do, is far too vague and could have disastrous consequences for women’s health. On Friday, Gingrich clarified those comments, saying he believed that life begins at implantation rather than fertilization.
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich clarified his position on personhood Friday when he told ABC News’ Jake Tapper that he believes life actually begins at “successful implantation,” not fertilization.
“I think the question of being implanted is a very big question,” Gingrich said. “My friends who have ideological positions that sound good don’t then follow through the logic of ‘So how many additional potential lives are they talking about? What are they going to do as a practical matter to make this real?’”
He said that “when a woman has a fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted, that now you’re dealing with life.” Otherwise, Gingrich noted, “you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions.”
Personhood supporters, like Personhood USA spokeswoman Jennifer Mason, disagree with Gingrich’s position. “If Newt Gingrich believes that life begins at implantation, he is scientifically incorrect,” Mason told the Huffington Post. “Any human embryology textbook confirms that life begins at the moment of fertilization. From that moment, there is a living, growing, developing human being.”
A personhood initiative recently failed in Mississippi, despite significant support from state leaders — some of whom didn’t necessarily endorse it, but voted for it anyway. In Florida, plans for a personhood amendment in 2014 are already under way, according to the head of Personhood Florida.