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Lecture Warns of Laws that Could Render Pregnant Women “Second-Class” Citizens


These days, the controversies surrounding Roe v. Wade are taking a unique turn. Opponents of abortion propel their argument on the grounds that fetuses have separate legal rights (moral value notwithstanding) from their pregnant mothers.

In an effort to shed light on another side of the issue, the Women’s Studies Program, the Peace and Justice Studies Program, and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology will host a lecture this week on the implications of these “personhood” measures for pregnant women overall.

“Separate and Unequal: How ‘Personhood’ Initiatives Create a Second-Class Citizenship for Pregnant Women”

Thursday, March 8
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Flom Auditorium, Walsh Library, Rose Hill campus

Farah Diaz-Tello, a staff attorney for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, will explain what personhood measures are and how they would play out for pregnant women.

For instance, Mississippi Ballot Initiative 26, if passed, would have severed the legal bond between a pregnant woman and the baby she carries, Diaz-Tello said. As a class distinct from fetuses, pregnant women could be denied rights such as bodily integrity and the power of making informed medical decisions.

“This discussion is important because it will show through case examples from around the country that laws that create separate legal status for fetuses affect all pregnant women, not only those who wish to prevent or end a pregnancy,” Diaz-Tello said.

“Whether or not people identify as pro-life or support abortion rights, ‘personhood’ legislation is overly broad and can result in the criminalization of women who want to carry their pregnancies to term.”

A dedicated birth activist, Diaz-Tello also serves on the board of Backline, an organization that offers support for women regarding issues of pregnancy, parenting, adoption, and abortion. In addition, while a student at CUNY School of Law, she worked to prepare expert testimony with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Mexico’s responsibility to address the femicide in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua.

— Joanna Klimaski


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