The H.R. 586 Bill goes by many names — the "Sanctity of Human Life Act," the "personhood bill" — but no matter what it's called, it's a threat to women's reproductive rights everywhere. The bill declares that each human life begins with fertilization, and is a threat to women's right to choose. But in addition to abortion, the bill may impact other aspects of women's reproductive health, including birth control. So would birth control be illegal if the personhood bill passes?
H.R. 586 grants Constitutional rights, including the right to life, to a fertilized egg in a woman's body. The bill was proposed by House member Jody Hice, who has consistently worked to pass anti-abortion legislation.
Up until now, legally and medically, pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterus. But the H.R. 586 bill would completely change that definition because, under it, any fertilized egg, regardless of whether it's attached to a uterus, could be considered a pregnancy. This is why the bill may make certain types of birth control illegal.
Most forms of contraceptives prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. Condoms simply keep sperm out of a woman's body, while the birth control pill prevents ovulation. These methods of contraceptives would likely not be affected by the H.R. 586 Bill.
However, there are some methods of contraceptives that work after fertilization — and those methods would very likely be targeted if the bill passes. Emergency contraceptives such as Plan B delay ovulation, but it can also work by preventing a fertilized egg, known as an embryo, from attaching itself to the uterine wall, according to the FDA's definition. But in recent years, some studies suggest that emergency contraceptives may be ineffective against preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to a uterine wall. Despite these studies, some religious advocates insist that emergency contraceptives terminate a life.
A copper IUD can also prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus within five days of sex. Although most women don't use IUDs as a form of emergency contraception, because they can be used in this matter, they would likely be banned as well.
So if this bill passes, the rights of an unattached embryo will trump your rights to use Plan B or to get an abortion.
Banning emergency contraceptives could be disastrous. The morning after pill is critical for women who may have had a condom break or slip, or who can't afford birth control.
And what's worse is that the women who need emergency contraceptives may grow, since the Senate voted against an amendment requiring insurance companies to cover contraceptives as part of the process to repeal the Affordable Care Act. So not only is the affordability of contraceptives in danger, the contraceptive options women have will become more limited if this bill passes.