“Personhood” could set precedent
On Nov. 8, Mississippi voters shot down a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have defined a “person” as every human being from the onset of fertilization, cloning, or any other method of reproduction.
The “personhood” initiative, according to CNN, would have defined life as starting at conception (the one-celled embryo) and banned any form of birth control or abortion. I had a problem with Mississippi Amendment 26 (personhood amendment) from the beginning. Even though I don’t live in Mississippi, I can see where it would set the precedence where all states would adopt this ruling.
Such an amendment would set a precedent for all states. It was ambiguous in addressing cases of rape and incest. I believe it would have re-fueled the national debate on abortion and ultimately the decision would most likely have been overruled by the Supreme Court.
There would be a challenge to the landmark decision of Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion and the due process rights of women. The amendment would pit the medical community against the religious community. Radical fundamentalists would come out the woodwork doing an “occupy personhood” rally at Planned Parenthood centers and abortion clinics. Anti-abortion activists, such as the ones that invaded our campus on April 11, would have free reign in Mississippi to boycott on college campuses and perhaps even business establishments. I don’t see where an amendment can regulate or control effectively the passion that people have when they are committed to a movement.
Personhood USA, one of the major backers of the amendment, was very disappointed in the decision but their website states the organization is still going to pursue the “life at fertilization” ballot in six other states. I feel Mississippi was targeted because as one of the bible belt states this organization and others felt that they could manipulate the masses into their way of thinking. They felt that the majority of voters in that state were so sanctified that mentioning the word, “procreation” and Jesus’ way of thinking in the same sentence would cause people to swarm the ballot box to put that yes vote in.
Keith Mason, co-founder of Personhood USA, wrote on his site that they may try again. He contends the ballot failed because of all the misconceptions and lies placed out there by the Planned Parenthood group. The group also congratulated Gov. Haley Barbour for his support of the bill. The Associated Press reported that Barbour said, “I think all in all, I believe life begins at conception. So I think the right thing to do was to vote for it.”
So my question is: what happens to the rape victim or the incest victim who decides she cannot bear a child borne out of these circumstances? If abortion is prohibited “from the moment of fertilization,” would this bill have brought back the hanger and backyard abortionist? I think it would.
The next time any group or organization backs this type of bill, they should review historical data regarding abortions. They should review the many women that died due to unsanitary methods, but most importantly all the unwanted children that are now in this world.