Essay:Comments on the Virginia Personhood Bill

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Well, time to do a side-by-side commentary on the Virginia Personhood Bill that was recently passed, which gives the zygote the rights of an adult. It'll kill some time, I'll still be able to continue my work on prenatal development, and it'll let you get to know some of my views in this "field of expertise" of mine[1]. Not much of a preamble is needed. Comments accepted in the talk page.

The Bill My Comments

Summary as introduced[edit]

Rights of unborn children. Provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth, subject only to the laws and constitutions of Virginia and the United States, precedents of the United States Supreme Court, and provisions to the contrary in the statutes of the Commonwealth.This can't end well. My first question is, now that you've given all "unborn children" the rights of a citizen, what are they going to do with them? A morula (4-day-old embryo) rolling down the oviduct is not likely[2] to have WiFi access, pull out a laptop and become a political commentator with a blog. The unborn insentient embryos, fetuses, etc., won't care if they have these rights or not. Second, since citizenship apparently is granted at conception, what happens if the mother goes traveling abroad and happens to give birth outside of America? I don't think this contradiction is resolved anywhere in the bill. Eh, without this kind of ambiguity, lawyers wouldn't have a job. It'll be funny in 35 years when one of these cases of Virginian-conceived[3], foreign-born children runs for president. Although sad, since such an idiotic law would last for 35 years. I'll give more comments on these two items (mostly the first) as this goes on.

Original Bill[edit]

(Additions to existing law in italics.)
Offered January 11, 2012
Prefiled November 21, 2011

A BILL to construe the word "person" under Virginia law, including but not limited to § 8.01-50 of the Code of Virginia, to include unborn children.Dear God, no. This can't end well. My spider bullshit sense is tingling.

Patrons-- Marshall, R.G. and Cline; Senators: Colgan and Garrett
Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
I'm not going to comment on who's patronizing this crap as I don't know who they are.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. § 1. The life of each human being begins at conception.Okay, let's do some calculations here. If we begin with 164 zygotes (fertilized eggs), 62 of them will survive to term and be born alive.[4] Quick calculations show that this means Virginia now has at least a 62% infant mortality rate. Compare to the 2006 infant mortality rate of 0.74%[5]. I wonder how they're going to deal with all those blastocysts which fail to implant, which would be lost lives in the eyes of this law. Also, what would happen in the event of identical twins, where one conception leads to two births? It's ambiguous about what is supposed to happen here regarding the "beginning of life". If we take a chocolate bar and split it in two, which is the original bar? is an analogous question which springs to mind here, borrowed from QualiaSoup's old YT video on dualism which has been taken down for re-making.

§ 2. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being.Well, this is absurd. What interests are there to protect? Let's imagine that I was a morula who was magically sentient. I'm rolling down the Fallopian tube and I'll probably enter the uterus shortly. My main concern at the moment[6] wouldn't be whether I would be aborted sometime in the future, but whether I would even be able to safely implant in the endometrium[7]. Should I fail to implant, my yolk sac which sustained me to this point will run out, I'd starve and die, and be expelled in my mother's period. Feel free to leave your comments on how you're going to help Maurice Ulysses A.[8] in implanting. Of course, this whole line is moot, as in reality, the morula couldn't care less as it doesn't have the neurons necessary for thought, and won't have so until ~24 weeks from conception[9]. But still: the scenario described here would be a good mental exercise to preserve whatever neurons are left in the excuse for the conservapedian brain.

§ 3. The natural parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of their unborn child.Yes, they may, but only if the child is wanted. An unwanted child resulting from the fact that birth control is not 100% effective or from rape can be effectively seen as a parasite: the embryo feeds on the mother's resources, expels its waste into the mother's body, and provides no benefit to the mother (not even the "emotional benefit" that anti-choicers put out, which would only exist with a wanted child). The parents also have "protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being" of themselves, which is conveniently left out of the text. A woman should be able to remove a parasite from her body if she wants to. No, I don't mean to use "parasite" as loaded language or propaganda, but it is a fact that an unwanted fetus' relationship with a mother is accurately described as parasitical.

§ 4. The laws of this Commonwealth shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this Commonwealth, subject only to the Constitution of the United States and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court and specific provisions to the contrary in the statutes and constitution of this Commonwealth.Okay, but what's the zygote/morula/blastocyst/embryo/fetus/whatever going to actually do with those rights and privileges? Remember that there are no such things as blastocyst bloggers. The prenatal pundit is an exercise in fantasy and nothing more. It's silly to protect the rights of those who have never been able to, and are not currently able to, care about those rights, as is the case for the zygote. There are questions like: what if the mother, who is sentient and cares about rights and privileges, is going through some sort of emotional trauma from an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy? What if the mother has some sort of illness where abortion is the best option for ensuring the mother's survival? Since all the blastocysts have the rights of an adult, what about IVF? A lot of blastocysts are produced in the process, and if even one is successfully implanted, the scores of others will be literally thrown away. The "garbage" blastocysts can't even be used for embryonic stem cell research by the logic of the religious right, yet this valuable potentially life-saving resource is going down the drain with no qualms. There is no way to get around the rights of these "garbage" blastocyst sans special pleading.

§ 5. As used in this section, the term "unborn children" or "unborn child" shall include any unborn child or children or the offspring of human beings from the moment of conception until birth at every stage of biological development.I easily inferred this was the case from the beginning, so I can't really comment much on it. Although "conception" isn't really as much of a moment as a process. The time between the sperm penetrating the egg membrane and the merging of the sperm and egg nuclei is a gap of 12 hours or even more[10] We can't really point to a "moment" of conception. It's not as fine and dry as we would like it to be. A similar problem has to do with defining death.

§ 6. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.I smell a contradiction here. We can charge a woman for neglecting her born child if she drinks too much alcohol. If the zygote is a person from conception, why isn't the woman being punished the same if the embryonic development is damaged by alcohol? By the logic of this law, women should not be allowed in bars, lest they unknowingly have an implanted embryo. I'm not a lawyer, though, so don't let me take their jobs.

§ 7. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as affecting lawful assisted conception.Now, why not? If a "person" has a right to life from conception, even ignoring the problems regarding implantation, why should these blastocysts lose their rights because their sibling has implanted? Whoever wrote this doesn't know much about embryology. Special pleading this is. Presumably, embryonic stem research is banned in Virginia now, and all those garbage blastocysts[11] will just be thrown away rather than being used to potentially save the lives of millions. <sarcasm>What will they do to all those spare blastocysts if one of their siblings implants? Use them for research? That would violate their human rights, think of the blastocysts! Throw them away? Meh, okay.</sarcasm> The stupidity leaves a bad taste in my mouth. That or the coffee. But I like coffee. *sips coffee*.[12]

Floor substitute[edit]

(Additions to existing law in italics.)
(Proposed by Delegate McClellan
on February 13, 2012)
(Patron Prior to Substitute--Delegate Marshall, R.G.)

A BILL to amend and reenact § 8.01-50 of the code of Virginia, relating to wrongful death of an unborn child.Why does my bullshit sense tingle whenever I start a new section?

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That § 8.01-50 of the Code of Virginia is amended and reenacted as follows:

§ 8.01-50. Action for death by wrongful act; how and when to be brought.

A. Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of any person or corporation, or of any ship or vessel, or the death of an unborn child caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of any person or corporation, or of any ship or vessel to the pregnant woman/mother, and the act, neglect, or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action, or to proceed in rem against such ship or vessel or in personam against the owners thereof or those having control of her, and to recover damages in respect thereof, then, and in every such case, the person who, or corporation or ship or vessel which, would have been liable, if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages, or, if a ship or vessel, to a libel in rem, and her owners or those responsible for her acts or defaults or negligence to a libel in personam, notwithstanding the death of the person injured, and although the death shall have been caused under such circumstances, as amount in law to a felony.
So... section 6 of the original bill just got nixed, it seems. Although the wording here is so ambiguous and confusing here, it's almost like they let a monkey type this shit. I'm not sure where to start digesting this metaphorical prion[13]

B. Every such action under this section shall be brought by and in the name of the personal representative of such deceased person within the time limits specified in § 8.01-244.So a zygote can hire a lawyer now. Stop the planet, I'm getting off. Gonna move to that Kepler planet where it's always 70 degrees.[14]

C. If the deceased person was an infant who was in the custody of a parent pursuant to an order of court or written agreement with the other parent, administration shall be granted first to the parent having custody; however, that parent may waive his right to qualify in favor of any other person designated by him. If no such parent or his designee applies for administration within thirty days from the death of the infant, administration shall be granted as in other cases.So now infants count as unborn children... or something. Okay, get me to the chef who cooked on the thirteenth. I don't like this word salad very much.

D. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for directly or indirectly harming her unborn child.And... Section 6 is back in place now? My head hurts. No one let the simian serve food again. My word salad has deep-fried Skittles in it[15].

Vote in House[edit]

02/14/12 - (66-Y 32-N)

YEAS--Albo, Anderson, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Byron, Cline, Cole, Comstock, Cosgrove, Cox, J.A., Cox, M.K., Crockett-Stark, Dudenhefer, Edmunds, Fariss, Farrell, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Hodges, Hugo, Iaquinto, Ingram, Johnson, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Loupassi, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Merricks, Miller, Minchew, Morefield, Morris, O'Bannon, O'Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pogge, Poindexter, Putney, Ramadan, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Scott, E.T., Sherwood, Stolle, Tata, Villanueva, Ware, R.L., Watson, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Yost, Mr. Speaker--66.

NAYS--Alexander, BaCote, Brink, Bulova, Carr, Dance, Englin, Filler-Corn, Herring, Hope, Howell, A.T., James, Joannou, Keam, Kory, Lewis, Lopez, May, McClellan, McQuinn, Morrissey, Plum, Rust, Scott, J.M., Sickles, Spruill, Surovell, Toscano, Tyler, Ward, Ware, O., Watts--32.


NOT VOTING--Purkey, Torian--2.
Not much to say on this, besides that 66 people just made it onto my list of idiots, I find it hard to believe a guy's last name is actually "Mr. Speaker", and I don't see any difference between abstaining and not voting. And I'm glad I'm not a woman in Virginia. Here's hoping the big 9 recognize that Roe v. Wade didn't decide that zygote = adult.

Final Comments[edit]

Well, this killed at least an hour. What a pile of shit I found. Unlike the Bible, there aren't any "diamonds in a dunghill", just the dunghill. Get the cow pasture out of Congress now. Not kidding.


  1. My other such "field" would probably be evolutionary biology and some types of archaeology.
  2. Read "impossible".
  3. Not virgin-born. Sorry, Mary.
  4. Our article on miscarriage has a table describing this.
  6. I.e., my "protectable" interests in life, health, and well-being.
  7. Velvety lining of the uterus which will nurture the embryo before the placenta can form. It's the stuff that comes out during menstruation.
  8. Lame pun, supposed to be somewhat like "Maur Ul A", i.e. "morula" but in the form of a name.
  11. No more having the word "garbage" in quotes for this purpose. The blastocysts are, in this case, literally garbage.
  12. Really. I'm in a Barnes and Noble cafe right now, a paper cup to my right.
  13. Bent-up un-recyclable protein that builds up in the brain and causes mad cow disease.
  14. Yes, I say that a lot. Maybe because there's so much screwed up on this planet I'd rather not have to share the planet with 7 billion where the people in charge tend to be on the low end of the IQ chart.