This is not a headline from The Onion.
Legislators have had so much success smuggling in ulterior motives with 20-week bans that they’re now looking for ways to expand the amount of hard right anti-choice nonsense they can attach to those bills. The most recent—-and extreme—-example is Arizona. There, lawmakers are writing a 20-week abortion ban that starts counting off at the first day of a woman’s period. Yes, they’re arguing that you’re “pregnant” while you’re actually getting your period. In fact, as Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones explains, they’re really trying to steal as many weeks as possible away from women seeking abortion:
Most women ovulate about 14 or 15 days after their period starts, and women can usually get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occured anywhere between five days before ovulation and a day after it. Arizona’s law would start the clock at a woman’s last period—which means, in practice, that the law prohibits abortion later than 18 weeks after a woman actually becomes pregnant.
That’s bad in and of itself, but taking a step back and looking at the big picture makes this law look even more sinister. Medically speaking, pregnancy starts when a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. Anti-choicers have attempted to define it earlier with their failed attempts to pass “personhood” law that would define not just pregnancy, but “personhood” as beginning at conception. Now in Arizona, they’re trying to argue that you’re pregnant a couple of weeks before you even had the sex that resulted in your pregnancy.
Think about the implications down the road. If a woman is “pregnant” two weeks before she becomes pregnant, than any fertile woman—-including those currently menstruating!—-should really be considered pregnant. After all, we don’t know the future. We don’t know that any non-pregnant woman couldn’t be pregnant two weeks from now, making her retroactively pregnant now. Considering that it’s anti-choice nuts we’re talking about, it’s safe to assume that they’d simply prefer a situation where all women of reproductive age are considered to be pregnant, on the grounds that they could be two weeks from now. Better safe than sorry, especially if that mentality means you get to exert maximum control over the bodies of women of reproductive age.