The vote is today. If you haven’t been following the progress of Mississippi’s proposed personhood amendment, which would grant fertilized eggs as well as embryos and fetuses the legal status of human beings, you should brush up. Though a similar measure has already failed at the polls twice in Colorado, this one has been heavily pushed by religious groups, and it’s expected to pass. If it does, said the New York Times, all forms of abortion and some forms of birth control would effectively become murder in the state. Yes, that includes abortion for rape. Some people worry that women who experience miscarriages could be subject to criminal investigation under this law; it will also make in vitro fertilization a very different process if doctors are prohibited from discarding some of the embryos, as is usual now. There are a host of other possible implications, too, as Slate’s David Plotz waggishly wrote:
* Tax deductions for dependent embryos
* “Anchor babies” whose parents had sex in Mississippi, conceived, then went back to their own countries to deliver
* The products of fatal ectopic pregnancies being prosecuted for murder-suicide
According to the Times, even anti-abortion legal experts believe this amendment is a bad move. It will probably be declared unconstitutional, and in the process, they fear, laws allowing abortion may be strengthened. Others, though, hope that the Supreme Court will not only uphold it but overturn Roe v. Wade while they’re at it. On the other hand, opponents fear it will seriously hamper medical care and contraceptive efforts in Mississippi while it grinds through the courts.
Incidentally, Mother Nature regularly wages a holocaust against fertilized human eggs. A huge proportion–something like 50%–either never implant or spontaneously abort.
Here’s what arose during our dinner conversation on this topic: If the Founding Fathers knew of the existence of abortion, which as educated men they surely did, then why did they (a) decline to outlaw it in the Constitution and (b) declare that those eligible for the presidency had to be born in the United States, rather than merely conceived there? Might one not conclude from (b) that they viewed birth as the beginning of legal rights? Just sayin’.