A fetal personhood amendment introduced by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has stalled a Flood Insurance Bill intended to increase funding for the National Flood Insurance Program just as the hurricane season begins. The Flood Insurance bill, which had bipartisan support, was considered noncontroversial and would have saved the government $4.7 billion over eight years. Paul’s amendment, similar to proposed state personhood amendments, would define life as beginning at the moment of fertilization, granting fertilized eggs with the full rights and privileges of a person. As a result, personhood would not only put a woman’s right to an abortion in danger, but it potentially threatens access to oral and emergency contraception, IUDs, in-vitro fertilization, and stem cell research.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the proposed amendment “outlandish.” Reid said yesterday, “After all the work that’s been on this bill, this is ridiculous that somebody says ‘I’m not going to let this bill go forward unless I have a vote on when life begins. I am not going to do that, and I think I speak for the majority of senators.” Paul said the criticism was unwarranted, saying “can you believe that they’re exasperated with me?”

Personhood initiatives introduced on the state level have recently failed in Oklahoma, Virginia, and Mississippi. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America (PDF), 14 state legislatures introduced 26 personhood measures in 2011.

Huffington Post 6/26/12; Daily Kos 6/26/12; Politico 6/26/12; Times Picayune 12/26/12; NARAL Pro-Choice America 3/9/12