Should a single-celled embryo or a fetus incapable of life outside the womb have the legal rights of a "person" in Alaska? The answer will be yes if a proposed ballot initiative survives legal challenge, gains sufficient signatures and is approved by a majority of Alaska voters.
Let's hope it doesn't come to that. Passing the so-called "personhood" initiative would essentially assert state control over the bodies of pregnant women.
Consider just a few of the bizarre questions that could arise if such an initiative were to pass. Would a rapist have the legal right to hire a lawyer to represent the embryo inside his victim, to ensure that the child is born? What potential lawsuit awaits the woman who smokes a cigarette or drinks alcohol during her pregnancy? Would the federal census count a woman pregnant with twins as three people? Would fertility clinics that store embryos for implantation be subject to regulation as orphanages?
So what would justify the creation of such a legal quagmire?
The initiative sponsor, Christopher Kurka, freely admits that "personhood" is an effort to stop legal abortion. His is a futile quest because abortion, with some limitations, is a constitutional right in the United States, and a state-level voter initiative can't override the U.S. Constitution.
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