Actress Kathleen Turner: How Would a Human Embryo Know It Has Human Rights?

Patrick Burke | September 6, 2012 | 5:46pm EDT
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Actress Kathleen Turner, chairwoman of Planned Parenthood's Board of Advocates. (AP)

( -- Kathleen Turner, actress and chairwoman of Planned Parenthood’s Board of Advocates, criticized “personhood” legislation, which defines life as beginning at conception and ending at natural death, and asked how a human embryo would know it had such personhood rights.

At the National Press Club on Wednesday, Turner spoke about reproductive rights and mocked the idea of a “personhood” law.

“And then we have the so-called ‘personhood’ bills,” she said. “Now these would give full legal rights to a zygote, at the moment sperm meets egg. Frankly, I have always wondered, ‘How do they know?’”

Turner continued, “The personhood movement not only proposes to redefine pregnancy as occurring at the moment of fertilization, even though up to half of fertilized eggs do not result in a sustainable pregnancy. But also once a zygote -- weeks away from a potential pink plus sign on a stick -- to be recognized as a complete human being with equal rights.”

“Now this would criminalize many of the most common forms of contraception, not to mention the in-vitro fertilization treatment and stem-cell research, as well as complicate the legality of medical intervention in the event of a life-threatening pregnancy,” she said.

Turner also criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for supporting the definition of life at conception.

In October 2011, Romney appeared on Huckabee and said, while as governor of Massachusetts, he would have supported a state constitutional amendment stipulating that life begins at conception.

Huckabee: “Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would’ve established the definition of life at conception?”

Romney: “Absolutely.”

During her remarks, Turner spoke generally about the reproductive rights of women, and emphasized the need for women to support President Barack Obama in the upcoming election.

In fiscal year 2010, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) got $487.4 million from the federal and state governments, up from $363.2 million the previous year, making taxpayer funding about one-third of the organization’s $1 billion in assets. According to its fact sheet, Planned Parenthood performed 329,445 abortions in 2010.
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