Opinion: Why proponents of fetal personhood are so interested in sex education

Opinion: Why proponents of fetal personhood are so interested in sex education - Politics - News

The Pursuit of Fetal Personhood: A New Frontier in the Sex Education Wars

The recent Alabama Supreme Court decision recognizing embryos as “persons” under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor law has reignited the debate on fetal personhood. While some may view this development as a setback for the fetal personhood movement, its proponents are not slowing down. Instead, they have set their sights on new goals, including transforming sex education programs into recruiting grounds for the fight for fetal personhood.

The intersection of fetal personhood and sex education is an intriguing development, as these two longstanding social conservative issues have previously been largely separate. The history of this issue dates back to the 1960s when organizations like SIECUS began promoting school sex education programs. Social conservatives, including groups such as the Moral Majority, fiercely opposed these efforts, labeling proponents as seeking to corrupt innocent children.

However, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, even some conservative policymakers began to recognize the need for sex education to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infection. C. Everett Koop, a pro-life surgeon general, angered many of his Republican colleagues by advocating for children to learn about safe sex.

Fast forward to the present day, and the performance lines have shifted once again. The conservative push for fetal personhood is now intertwined with the ongoing fight over sex education. In recent years, the sexualization of education has become a major concern for many conservatives, and the fight for fetal personhood is seen as an opportunity to influence what is taught in schools.

The success of conservative efforts to transform sex education into a partisan issue has opened the door for anti-abortion groups to make their case for fetal personhood. Live Action, an anti-abortion group, has been at the forefront of this effort with its educational video “Meet Baby Olivia,” which presents fetal development in a lifelike animation format.

The push to incorporate fetal development and personhood into sex education curricula is gaining momentum, as conservatives look to build on their wins in areas like classroom censorship surrounding sexual orientation, gender identity, and race. The GOP’s success with “Don’t Say Gay” bills has provided a legislative playbook for advancing fetal rights.

The Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade has heightened the expectations of the anti-abortion movement, forcing them to look for a new long game. While a constitutional amendment seems impossible in the current political climate, the hope is that state courts and lawmakers will recognize constitutional fetal rights, paving the way for a US Supreme Court decision.

Republicans understand the need for immediate progress in advancing demands for fetal personhood while avoiding significant pushback from voters. Focusing on more stringent abortion bans or limiting IVF may be risky moves, and overhauling sex education provides an opportunity to advance the cause without alienating voters.

The latest performance in the war over sex education is just the beginning of struggles over fetal personhood, and its implications go beyond abortion. The future of this issue will be shaped by how it plays out in classrooms across America.