By Deborah Stilt — In direct response to the recently passed Texas Heartbeat Act, a new bill was proposed in Pennsylvania that would limit the number of children that men could father and mandate forced sterilization. The so-called parody legislation could easily be laughed off as absurd, but closer examination reveals a more disturbing truth.
In an early-October sponsorship memo circulated through the Pennsylvania House, State Representative Chris Rabb announced his intent to propose legislation requiring all men—referred to in the document as “inseminators”—to undergo sterilization within 6 weeks of the birth of their third child or before their 40th birthday, whichever comes first. It also codifies “wrongful conception,” allowing women to seek legal action against men who conceive a child with them, and offers a $10,000 reward for reporting “those scofflaws” who have not submitted to a vasectomy within the mandated timeframe.
While obviously intended to illicit shock, the bill is not the first of its kind. Rabb acknowledged his effort was inspired by Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Illinois, who filed the TExAS Act to allow civil action to be brought against “anyone who causes an unintended pregnancy or any person who enables those acts.” Similarly, Rep. Rolanda Hollis of Alabama introduced HB238, demanding men receive a vasectomy following the birth of their third child or within a month of turning 50.
Men and personhood
Framed as a response to the Texas Heartbeat Act, which restricts abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, Rep. Rabb’s bill reinforces the narrative that opposition to abortion is about “controlling women’s bodies.” Rep. Rabb purports that his bill would bring about reproductive justice by controlling men’s bodies as well. Of course, nowhere is it mentioned that abortion intentionally ends the life of a child, nor is it acknowledged that forced sterilization is an egregious violation of human rights. In fact, based on the language of the memo, one would have a difficult time determining whether Rep. Rabb believes men are deserving of human rights at all.
Throughout the text, men who father children are referred to as “inseminators,” reducing them to the function of a single organ and erasing their God-given calling in their children’s lives as leaders, providers, and protectors. While some men have obviously not lived up to this role, that problem stems from sin, not from God’s design. This dehumanizing view of fatherhood attacks the personhood of men, weakens the family, and damages society at large.
Satire, or not?
Perhaps this is all “tongue in cheek” and merely satire, but let’s examine this claim further. What has been the response from the pro-abortion side? Does anybody really believe it’s okay for the government to decide who is allowed to have children, how many, and when? Is there support to sterilize half the population without their consent?
A random Twitter sampling provides ample evidence this viewpoint is gaining momentum.
Some people believe male children should undergo forced sterilization as soon as they hit puberty.
Still others propose that we get rid of males entirely.
A clash of worldviews
The Christian worldview upholds the standard that all human beings are created in the image of God and therefore, are imbued with fundamental rights which no other person or government can take away. It is easy to assume that this is common ground we can all agree on. However, remarks such as those above reveal a Utilitarian worldview that is becoming increasingly predominant in our society. This worldview maintains the position that human life does NOT have equal value and that factors such as sex, age, level of dependency, or the ability to contribute to society determine an individual’s worth – and correspondingly, their right to life. From this vantage point, a child growing in the womb is merely the property of his mother, to be cared for or disposed of according to her will alone.
This subjective view commodifies human beings (particularly children), glorifies Self above all, and contributes to the breakdown we see in society today.
Outrage isn’t enough
Predictably, Rep. Rabb’s proposed legislation inspired outrage across the political spectrum and within the pro-life movement. Also predictably, nobody spoke to the heart of the matter. People got angry and blew up their Twitter feeds with scores of angry comments.
And then, they did nothing.
Contributing to the outrage is not an effective strategy. So what can we do?
Fortunately, there is much that can be done—and needs to be done—to reestablish the fundamental understanding that all human beings are persons with God-given rights. The personhood movement is a diverse, growing community of individuals, organizations, and leaders who stand on the common sense, biblical principles of personhood. We seek to restore the inalienable rights of all humans through education, culture shifting, and practical politics. Contact us today to learn how you can get involved.
Your social media feed is not going to change the world, but YOU can.
To learn more about how the Personhood Alliance stands for human life and human dignity, without exception and without compromise, subscribe to our email list.
Deborah Stilt is the vice president of Personhood Alliance Education and the social media coordinator for the Personhood Alliance. She has been active in pro-life media and foster care advocacy for several years. But most importantly, she’s a California mom who is fighting against the lies of the culture and for the protection of every human being without exception.