Mark Udall ad says Cory Gardner ‘championed’ Colorado fight to ban birth control image, April 21, 2014
Citing I. Glenn Cohen (Faculty Director)


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[...] As we’ve noted in past articles about the debate over personhood, some legal scholars and the medical community have cautioned that it could potentially impact access to birth control.

In a 2011 op-ed to the New York Times, Glenn Cohen, co-director of the Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard University, and Jonathan Will, law professor at Mississippi College, said what is considered "fertilization" is not even clear.

Fertilization could mean at least four different things: "penetration of the egg by a sperm," successful combination of the genetic information from sperm and egg, activation of the genetic information, and "implantation of the embryo in the uterus," Cohen and Will wrote.

Sperm penetration occurs almost immediately, but implantation can take up to two weeks. "Thus, on some reasonable readings of the amendment, certain forms of birth control ... would seem impermissible, while on other equally reasonable readings they are not."

Therefore, it is difficult to know how courts would react, especially considering that past rulings have affirmed the right of access to birth control. A personhood law could present proponents an opportunity to challenge those rulings. [...]

abortion bioethics contraception health law policy i. glenn cohen personhood reproductive rights