Monday, October 26, 2009

Personhood Initiative

abortion, prochoice, prolife, feminism, choice, mississippi
There is an initiative in Mississippi to classify everything from a newly fertilized egg onward as a "person" with all the rights and benefits of "personhood".


Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hereby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ:

Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.

This frightens me.

This creates, in every woman, the possibility of there being a "person" inside her body- parasitizing her body, in fact- that has conflicting rights with the woman herself.

What happens when the rights of this fetusperson, this person who cannot survive outside of another person, demand that another, fully functioning person must risk death or serious injury to preserve the rights of the fetusperson?

I have, more than once, had to make decisions that involve a malignant calculus: this drug will improve your heart function, but damage your liver. What do you want to do? That decision is difficult to make, balancing potential benefits against potential risks and hoping against hope that I made the right decision. And it is my decision. As my doctor said when I asked him to decide, I have to live with the consequences of the decision, therefore I must make the decision.

In Mississippi, we could very well see a day when women are required to live with the consequences of a decision they are not allowed to make. Who will make that decision? Well, not the woman's doctor. Her doctor can't advocate for both woman and fetus if their needs oppose one another. Another doctor will have to be brought in, as well as, I would imagine, a legal guardian for the fetus. Imagine waiting to discover if a doctor you've never seen before and a lawyer you've never met are going to sentence you to death to preserve the life of a person who doesn't exist yet.

How will these decisions be made? We don't know. Some women, left to their own devices, might very well accept a 95% chance of death in order to give their fetusperson a chance at living. Some women may not be willing to take a chance on a 95% chance of survival. What will be the cutoff? What extenuating factors will be taken into consideration? Will a single mother of 3 already born children be given a pass on risk that other women may be asked to accept? Will wealthy women be able to game the system with better representation? Truly, the potential consequences of this initiative are disturbing, and I doubt that even one of its proponents have thought it through as far as I have in 5 minutes.


  1. Hardcore Pro-Lifers (who are, unsurprisingly, 99.9% of the time also hardcore fundamentalist or charismatic Christians) believe that babies come from exactly two sources: God and Sin.

    If you get pregnant while married, it is a "Gift from God" and even if the pregnancy is life-threatening God will A. Save you, despite the odds, or B. Kill you, because he has some greater mysterious reason for why you had to die a totally preventable death.

    If you get pregnant while unmarried, it is a "Byproduct of Sin" and you must have the baby because it's one of God's children, even if you aren't. If the pregnancy is life-threatening, you should be forced to have the child because A. the child outranks your needs, you sinful whore and B. you deserve to die, you sinful whore.

    If you apply this fucked up logic, then the consequences you've anticipated don't really matter - that's the joy of faith!

  2. Since over half of fertilized eggs (aka persons) fail to implant and are flushed out in menstrual blood, I suggest every woman in Mississippi begin bringing her first tampon or pad to the statehouse each month.

    There, she should beg her representative to seek justice for these human beings (aka members of that electoral district), who have been so cruelly murdered by their alleged killer, God.

  3. They tried this in Colorado a year or two ago. Didn't work. Let's pull for the same result in Mississippi.

  4. The colorado one was different. It tried to define a person as "organism with human genome" That one would have prosecuted the doctors who "murdered" my tumor, LOL. Unwanted fetus, unwanted tumor, unwanted alien chest-burster, don't see much difference myself.

  5. The practical problems with this are almost as bad as the "organism with human genome" thing, though. When is the "moment" of conception? Is it when the egg is first penetrated by a sperm? what if multiple sperms penetrate the egg and it takes some time to eject the excess chromosomes (a process that can take 24-48 hours and still result in a viable fetus)? And does the fetus have to implant first?

    I could go on, but I think the general gist is being made: There is no "moment" of fertilization. It doesn't actually work that way.

  6. Damn, James, yer right! This says that human beings are not persons in Missisippi.

    They are persons after the moment of fertilization, which doesn't exist, so they never become persons at all, right?
    So we can just ignore all those criminal statutes that say "no person shall...."? How cool is that?

  7. i think they *have* thought about it, and this is what they thought:
    "there are two kinds of women: "good women" and whore. *obviously*, "good women" will A) always make the correct decision and B) will always have the means to make the correct decision [they will be rich, or have connections, or whatever]. this Bill obviously will not apply to those Good Women, because they won't need to Bill to "make" them be Good, and if they have to make a different decision, well obviously if they *are* "Good" then God will give them the resources to deal with it. No, this Bill only applies to the "whores", who make up the majority of the female population, who run around trying to get pregnant so they can have an abortion and ruin a Good Man's life; these whorish women are inherently evil, and therefor this Bill is 100% necessary to control these whorish women so that some day, if they ever try to turn back from their lives of Sin, they will have a *chance* to be forgiven. after all, isn't it better to try and fail than to never try at all? how do you KNOW that X or Y pregnancy complication will kill you unless you try? only whorish women would make the wrong choice here, and we owe it to their potential-future-born-again-Christian-selves to prevent their current-whorish-self from "challenging God's Will" because EVERYONE KNOWS that everything happens according to God's Will, because he's omnipotent, except abortions, which he is apparantly completely IMpotent to stop!"

    i now have a migrain.

  8. "This creates, in every woman, the possibility of there being a 'person' inside her body- parasitizing her body, in fact- that has conflicting rights with the woman herself."

    How sad to view motherhood in such a cold, unfeeling way! It seems almost like a loathing of femininity itself.

    "What happens when the rights of this fetusperson, this person who cannot survive outside of another person, demand that another, fully functioning person must risk death or serious injury to preserve the rights of the fetusperson?"

    How often does that happen? Seriously. Give me a number. Out of 1000 pregnancies, how often must--must--a baby be aborted to save the mother's life?

    I agree that Mississippi law should account for this rare occurrence. It is shortsighted not to include provisions for deciding between the life of the mother and the life of the fetus.

    As you know, most abortions occur simply because a woman, usually a young woman, wants the freedom to make the baby but not the responsibility of caring for the baby--whether by raising it herself or adopting it out.

    And you compare a human fetus to a malignant calculus. How cold and unfeeling--how inhuman--is that?

    ". . .the life of a person who doesn't exist yet."

    If it it doesn't exist, then what is there to abort? And if it isn't a person, then what is a being with unique human DNA, its own supply of human blood, and its own nervous system?


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