When is a baby a person? Alaska House Bill 107 seeks to define legal status of the unborn

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In the logic of some, a developing infant in the womb is only a baby if the mom wants it to be. Otherwise, it’s extraneous tissue.

The debate over when a living organism in the womb actually has any rights at all has been debated for decades in America. A bill by Alaska House Rep. Kevin McCabe of Big Lake is proposing to give greater clarity to the definition, and that has abortion-promoters up in arms, fearing that it will lead to a limit on abortions in Alaska.

House Bill 107 has been discussed and debated in House Judiciary Committee this week, where Democrats argue that a fetus having personhood has too many ramifications for abortion.

But McCabe says Alaska has better laws defining death than defining life, and it’s fair to give the Alaska Supreme Court some direction.

The bill was filed over a year ago but has been sitting in the queue in House Judiciary. This week, the debate started, although it’s unclear that the bill would ever pass the liberal majority running the Senate.

“Person” means a natural person or entity that has the moral right of self-determination, McCabe said.

“Life” is defined as the property or quality that distinguishes a living organism from a dead organism or inanimate matter and that is manifested in the function of a metabolism, growth, reproduction, a response to stimuli, or adaption to the environment, each of which originates within the organism, he said.

The Alaska Constitution, in Article I, Section 1, grants all humans the natural right to life.

“Thus, every person’s right to life must be protected by the State. Article 1, section 3, further states that no person is to be denied the enjoyment of any civil or political right because of race, color, creed, sex, or national origin. This is true regardless of age, level of dependency, citizenship, or viability. And this protection must not be denied to any human — even the pre-born. Further, a viability test to determine whether a person’s life is worthy of protection would also be unlawful,” McCabe said in his sponsor statement.

In fact, if a pregnant woman is intentionally injured and loses her child as a result of that injury, the State of Alaska considers that a murder — at any stage of the unborn child’s life. If the mother and unborn child both die, it’s double-homicide, at any stage of the child’s development.

McCabe cites court cases that concur with the establishment of a fetus as a distinct person:

In Gonzales v. Carhart, the Supreme Court wrote that the unborn child is a living individual, separate and distinct from the mother. In this 2007 decision, the Court did not consider the preborn child as merely a part of the mother’s body.

In Bonbrest v. Kotz, Justice McGuire stated: “From the viewpoint of the civil law and the law of property, a child en ventre sa mere is not only regarded as human being, but as such from the moment of conception—which it is in fact.

In Marbury vs. Madison, the court wrote: “The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the laws, whenever he receives an injury… The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation, if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right.” That decision cemented the individuality of the pre-born child and guarantees him or her a civil right to claim protection under the law; this includes the right to privacy found in the Alaska Constitution, McCabe argues.

He also cited work by Dr. Horatio R. Storer, who, in the 1800’s wrote:

“Allowing, then, as must be done, that the ovum does not originate in the uterus; that for a time, however slight, during its passage through the Fallopian tube, its connection with the mother is wholly broken; that its subsequent history after impregnation is one merely of development, its attachment merely for nutrition and shelter – it is not rational to suppose that its total independence, thus once established, becomes again merged into total identity, however temporary.” 

Storer led the Physicians’ Crusade Against Abortion, and his scientific approach has still not been refuted: The life of the unborn human begins independent of the mother’s body.

“Following the science then, it is illogical to conclude that the life of the pre-born human being (which was previously independent of the mother) ceases to exist during the time that he/she is in the womb. In other words, the egg, and the sperm, which are now subdividing are an independent life and do not terminate just because they have attached to the mother for nurturing and support. When a male sperm meets a female egg, both cease to exist independently, replaced by a living human in the earliest stage of development: conception. This life has separate DNA and is separate from the mother. Every major medical textbook on the subject teaches this,” McCabe writes.

It’s time Alaska defines “person” and “life” for the purpose of the Alaska Constitution, McCabe says: “It’s time to follow science, open our eyes and ears and recognize the personhood of the pre-born. It’s time to fix our Constitution and statutes, and this bill does that.”

Other states have laws that define fetuses as humans, notably Alabama, South Carolina, and Georgia.

McCabe has an uphill battle in Alaska, where much of the population is pro-choice. In a 2014 small survey by Pew Research Center, over 60% said abortion should be legal in all cases.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which promotes abortion, in Alaska, 15,700 of the 146,228 women of reproductive age became pregnant in 2011. 73% of these pregnancies resulted in live births and 12% in induced abortions.

During the Judiciary Committee hearing, Anchorage Democrat Rep. Cliff Groh, D-Anchorage asked McCabe if the law would lead to abortionists being prosecuted for homicide. McCabe said that it was not the intent of HB 107, and Alaska Supreme Court has ruled abortion to be covered by the privacy clause of the Alaska Constitution.

“It’s not the intent of this bill to send the stormtroopers into an abortionist’s office or a doctor that had to perform an abortion for one reason or another,” McCabe said.

Read Alaska’s 2022 abortion report at this State of Alaska Department of Health link. Since 2003, the number of abortions being performed in Alaska has been steadily declining, according to the report. In 2003, there were 1,787 abortions, but by 2022, the number had dropped to 1,238. There is no credible polling that shows if this is because of attitudinal changes toward the procedure or if there are other factors, such as women of child-bearing age moving away; Alaska has been seeing outmigration from the child-bearing age demographic.

Planned Parenthood of Alaska has sent a call for action out to oppose the bill, calling HB 107 “an extremist bill that attempts to assert personhood and legal rights beginning at conception — which could have staggering impacts on the right to abortion, IVF, and some forms of contraception.” In other words, it would cut into the group’s profit margin.

Read legal and scientific arguments about fetal personhood at the National Institutes of Health at this link.

34 COMMENTS

  1. How to KNOW you are doing the right thing, Planned Parenthood (evilfrom ITS inception) oppos3s the bill.
    Planned Parenthood only represents death, they never offer ANY other alternative, they do jot support life.

  2. But McCabe doesn’t really care or he would have co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, HB205, ‘https://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Detail/33?Root=HB%20205#tab1_4.

    • why would he ever do that. Eastman has never passed a bill and every time one of his gets scheduled he pulls it, just like he does a huge number of his amendments. HB205 is only there for him to try to hold people accountable like he did for Merrick and that other blonde woman, can’t remember her name. That one bill really is unconstitutional on so many levels. A better question might be why is Eastman not on Mccabes bill?

  3. It’s a simple question, it’s important that we have an answer, and the Democrats need to give their own ideas vefore they hate on Rep McCabe. Childish and unprofessional conduct from Rep Gray, yet again.

  4. This issue is like handling nitro-glycerin, careful and skillful handling is required. The citations by Mr. McCabe decisively show ignorance or disregard for defining a person. Thank You Rep. McCabe for shedding light on the truth and the need to define when a person is under logic and law.

    Consider Margaret Sanger’s own words in an article titled “A Better Race Through Birth Control,” she wrote, “Given Birth Control, the unfit will voluntarily eliminate their kind.”

    “Birth Control does not mean contraception indiscriminately practised,” Sanger wrote. “It means the release and cultivation of the better elements in our society.”

    • “………Given Birth Control, the unfit will voluntarily eliminate their kind………”
      She has not only been wrong, she, has been completely and thoroughly wrong in every way, hasn’t she?

  5. It’s about time to fix this. I find the current Alaska law (AS 11.41.150-180) quite unsettling and dubious in that they have it both ways. A mother can kill her own child, (in the womb up to birth) or hire a “Dr.” to do it, with no repercussions to either of them, but if someone else kills the child it’s murder. How can one be murder and the other not? Is it a person or is it not? We all know that answer. But apparently abortionists have the money and sway to coerce spineless politicians they will be mercilessly attacked if they don’t bend to their wishes.

    • Thanks, Tom. Let’s add another conundrum to the inequity:
      A man gets a woman pregnant, married or not. He doesn’t want a child, but she wants to keep it. Too bad, Dad. You are financially responsible for that child at least until he or she (are those adjectives evil?) reaches 18 years of age.
      Conversely, he wants his child, but she doesn’t. Too bad, Dad……..again. Your child is destined to die, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
      I hear the word “equity” bandied about this society like a volleyball, but it’s just noise……….

    • Buddy, do I have some shocking news for you about the US justice system, the American military, the IDF, NATO, and…society at large.

  6. Abortion is murder. Plain and simple.

    Also, it’s funny how those calling for their right to murder the unborn are alive.

    Maybe we should be allowed to perform later term abortions on them.

    • Yeah pass. We don’t want to murder people without trial. You may, but sane conservatives don’t. Grow up.

      • Ok Jimmy. You’re right, it’s only ok to murder people when natural resources are involved, or politicians tell us it’s for “national security”.

  7. The 14th Amendment to our constitution defines a citizen as “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Our constitution protects the rights of US citizens; but not those of other nations. For example, if a citizen of Nigeria were be murdered, it is not the concern of the United States government. Moreover, it appears a person must be born to be considered a US citizen. To protect the life of unborn Americans, it appears we need to implement another constitutional amendment.

    The question of citizenship was clarified in a flawed manner in the Dredd Scott case. Later, it was resolved by Republican congress in the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment Moreover, the Marbury vs Madison decision limits to what extent Alaska could contravene the plain language of the US Constitution. I find it odd so-called “pro-choice” supporters do not seize upon the US Constitutional definition of “citizen” to justify and defend their holocaust against unborn Americans.

    • “…….The 14th Amendment to our constitution defines a citizen as “All persons born or naturalized in the United States……..”
      So those who have been conceived in the womb, but who have not yet been born, are not yet citizens, but they’re still both alive and Homo sapien. Thus the legal conundrum. But, as has been demonstrated throughout human history, the law can be immoral, and lawyers must be servants of a moral society, not the other was around.
      It’s time for Dick the butcher’s plan to be considered……….

      • It is obvious to any reasonable, God-fearing, person that life begins at conception. However, our constitution was not written to include unborn people. It appears to only protect those defined as American citizens. It needs amendment to be morally proper. Moreover, our constitution treats those of us who fear God with no favor above those who do not. Many in power tend extend these protections to those who do not conform to that definition (ie: illegal aliens, unborn humans, foreign countries, etc…)

  8. Not a bad first step. Rep McCabe is to be commended for making the attempt. The AK Supremes claim not to know and have opted for privacy uber alles. Pro-aborts don’t care. And the pro-life community is fixated on conception. This is an attempt to at least have a discussion on where to draw the line.

    As long as we’re having a discussion, we need to start considering whose rights are at stake. The pro-aborts think Mom only. The pro-life think the Kiddo only. Nobody considers the third participant in this little passion play, Dad, that is until the family courts get involved, assigning responsibility but no rights to Dad.

    From my perspective, it is a three person problem, with Mom, Dad and the Kiddo having equal rights. Problem today is that both the abortion industry and the family courts consider mom’s rights to the complete exclusion of all others. Kiddo and Dad don’t get a vote, though both are on the hook for whatever mom decides to do. The kid dies and Dad gets to pay for 18-22 years without recourse if she chooses to carry to term.

    Perhaps it is time to consider the Chappelle approach – if you can abort them, we can abandon them – to at least level the playing field for Dad. And if we are considering differing approaches, someone, somewhere has to consider the rights of the kiddo. The kicker is where those rights manifest themselves. Most of the abortion laws in Europe draw that line somewhere around the end of the first trimester, something we ought to consider.

    As to the silly notion of my body, my choice, that was tossed in 2021 when the vax was forced on the bodies of so many unwilling Americans by those very Karens who so vociferously demand their right to abort their Kiddo. Cheers –

    • The very sad truth is this will never be happily resolved. It’s too nuclear for some people. The extremes will never be happy.

      Overturning Roe v Wade and sending the issue back to individual states was the best of imperfect solutions. Let each state set rules that work for their people.

  9. Let’s ask the Catholic Church:

    from the 1958 edition of Moral Theology, as hosted online by Project Gutenberg:

    “For procreation nature requires copulation, and hence pollution is unnatural, for it exercises semination without copulation,”

    OK, let’s check in with some Protestants:

    “The father’s act in donating gametes is morally suspect. Sanctioning masturbation for the sake of collecting sperm is ­dubious, and as typically done it is presumptively wrong. The mother does not act in giving her eggs: She is acted upon”—-M. Anderson, ‘The Biblical Case against IVF”

    What about birth control pills?

    “ The Catholic church hierarchy forbids all forms of artificial contraception, including condoms, birth control pills, IUDs (intrauterine devices), tubal ligation, vasectomies, and emergency contraception like Plan B”

    and…
    The Quiverfull movement, which encompasses 90% of Protestant women polled”. Hmmm.

    If you don’t want babies, and your God has rules, go for it (or actually don’t go for it, per definition).

    If you would like to proscribe what family planning—and that ALSO MEANS WE WANT A BABY—-means to your religion, go to church. Stay out of my religion, and stay out of our bedroom, and leave us and our doctor alone. The notion that a pilot with his own family problems can try to legislate my life is insulting, and the idea that Christians can endorse and enforce Cappy McCabe’s stupid personal beliefs on all of us is UnAmerican. Fascist, even, but hey: conservatives oppose fascism. MAGA folks and grifters do.

    • It’s always funny to watch people who don’t understand Christianity babble like a drunk trying to use faith to make points.

      My grandkids make more sense.

    • “…….Stay out of my religion, and stay out of our bedroom, and leave us and our doctor alone…….”
      Nobody cares about your religion, bedroom, or doctor. What society cares about is homicide.
      Enjoy it while you have it. It isn’t going to last forever.

  10. Margaret Sanger was an out right racist referring to black children as “ weeds” to be eliminated through abortion!!

  11. If you want to know the answer to this, watch that video of them trying to go in there and grab that baby to abort it. And watch the baby trying to get away. Almost like it has a conscious ability to try to survive. Of course. Murkowski would say that’s all just a knee jerk reaction. I’m not sure why she risks her soul with this. Maybe she has already lost it.

  12. Immediately upon conception, a fetus is both alive and Homo sapien. It can be nothing else in accordance with basic biology. Anybody declaring otherwise is an ideological monster or imbecle, and either option is dangerous enough to seperate them from moral society. This silly political position is simply yet another attempt to legally justify homicide.

  13. It is interesting the people who scream my body my choice but were all in on mandating everybody take an untested shot. Also the ones who claim Black Lives Matter but then abort many black babies. Also the ones who are already alive but want to claim the can kill an unborn child but will sear up and down that those of us on the Pro-Life side are racist. I was Pro-choice at one time but as I have aged in both years and wisdom my thought process has finally become more defined. I also have watched three of my own children prosper and my rainbow grandson grow. He is a rainbow not because of sexuality but because he is a child born after a previous mischarge for my daughter.

    Life is beautiful and must be protected.

    • That is true, but party platforms are clear: the Democrat Party supports abortion, and the Republican Party does not. Moreover, no other issue defines RINO (Republican In Name Only) more than abortion supporting “Republicans”.

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