Politicians in Montana this week have been debating House Bill 167 as it makes its way through the House Judiciary Committee. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, carries the short title of "Criminalize offense involving death to an unborn child."
After anti-abortion legislation failed repeatedly in Montana, the supporters finally wised up and started repackaging their efforts in order to find the proper wording to fool their constituents.
Their efforts started in earnest in 2009 with "personhood" legislation — Senate Bill 406 — which looked to constitutionally define a person in Montana.
On the surface, this seemed like a pretty ridiculous waste of legislators' time. It's not like we have a bunch of extra-terrestrials from another planet called Gloopton running around the state trying to gain residency and vote on hunting regulations.
"Oh, no," the legislation seemed to say, "we're not going have some ET dropping in on Big Sky Country with his third eye and tentacles thinking he's one of us and stinking up our polling booths. He ain't no person. We'll make our constitution prove it."
It eventually came out in the news that this was the pro-life folks spin-doctoring the legislative process: Define "personhood" as beginning at the point of conception, then all laws pertaining to people pertain to the fetus, thus abortion is murder and, voila, we have anti-abortion laws.
Normally, I get a little huffy when someone tries to pull a fast one on me. It's like being offered a can of peanut brittle that's actually filled with spring-loaded snakes. I really want the candy, and all I get is a heart attack.
I have to admit, though, if that law had passed, I would've been sorely tempted to get pregnant just so I could walk into the police station and demand to have my fetus arrested for illegally parking on my bladder. Seriously, a pregnant woman being forced to go potty every 30 minutes because of the pain and discomfort caused to her by another person? Doesn't that constitute criminal harassment?
Oh well. It would've been fun, but the bill was shut down in standing committee, and now we're only left with the debate about whether or not the world is a better place for not having a Pam Jr. to muck it up.
But the backers of that legislation must've been encouraged by their success at repackaging their product, so this new round of legislation has an all new and improved rhetoric.
"Personhood" is now a passe term, even "abortion" talk is being shunned. Matt Gouras, with Montana's Associated Press office, reported that Regier, "the sponsor of a bill making it illegal to kill an unborn child, says the proposal has nothing to do with abortion."
Which might be a relief to the pro-choicers if the bill didn't include amendments to Montana Code Annotated sections on deliberate homicide and smitigated deliberate homicide for an "unborn child." Then defines "unborn child" as "a human who is conceived but not yet born."
Um, I'm only a liberal arts major, but that sounds like the whole "personhood" thingy again. Why hide it?
It reminds me of those dark days in the early 1990s when the common, investment-hungry person knew that pyramid schemes were bad, but Ponzi schemes hadn't caught on as popular means of scamming investors. Those poor investment brokers had to get inventive.
A friend of ours got suckered into investing in an pyramid scheme because it was described as a "snowflake business model." The swindler had given him an illustration with the big-money earner in the center of a pattern that radiated out to the suckers in a snowflake pattern, rather than downward creating the classic pyramid.
Our friend kept pointing at the handy diagram and insisting that this wasn't a pyramid, "It's clearly a snowflake!"
Snowflake, snow job, I don't know. I think, though, I need a big shovel to sort through it all.
(And research on "dark suckers" in the '90s revealed that light bulbs don't illuminate — they suck Pam Burkeup the dark at http://viewnorth40.wordpress.com.)