Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Personhood in Mississippi




Theresa Civantos at the Weekly Standard:


Personhood Up for a Vote in Mississippi

9:32 AM, NOV 5, 2011 • BY THERESA CIVANTOS

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On November 8, the citizens of Mississippi will vote on a controversial amendment that would define every human being as a person from the moment of conception. The measure, known officially as Proposition 26, is one of six personhood amendments proposed for addition to state constitutions around the country.
Proposition 26 will appear on a statewide ballot after passing successfully through the Mississippi Supreme Court in September. If the measure is voted in, an amendment will be added to the Mississippi constitution that will state in part:
Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi:
Section 1. 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.
Not all pro-life forces are equally committed to supporting personhood amendments. Some of the oldest foes of abortion, such as the National Right to Life Committee and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have opted not to make personhood amendments a primary focus, possibly due to concern that the sweeping amendments are hasty and could backfire.
“Right now the focus of the National Right to Life Political Action Committee is on electing a pro-life president, and pro-life majorities in Congress,” said Jessica Rodgers of the National Right to Life Committee.
Nonetheless, few abortion foes would argue with the ideology behind the proposed amendments.
“National Right to Life believes that the unborn child is a person,” Rodgers said, a position that most pro-lifers share, and that Proposition 26 would codify into law.
So far, none of the other personhood amendments have advanced as far as Proposition 26 in Mississippi. Whether the measure advances all the way to becoming law will be determined November 8.

I strongly support the amendment, and I pray that it passes. It is the entirely correct affirmation that each of us is a person from conception to natural death. A person is a human being with a right to life, which is the fundamental right on which all other rights depend.


All human beings are persons who have the right to life. Imagine what human civilization would be if that simple truth were universally recognized. No war, no homicide, no abortion, no infanticide, no euthanasia, no capital punishment.

Critics of course will ask: what about in vitro fertilization, human embryonic stem cell research, etc? I reply that these matters raise profound ethical issues that can be clarified by the acknowledgement that a human being is a person from conception. The personhood amendment challenges us with the truth about man. The fact that many of us find it incompatible with our current bioethics is an example of how deeply entwined we are with the culture of death.

The basis for all ethics is an acknowledgement of the truth about man. We are created in God's image, and we each have an unalienable dignity. We each-- from conception to natural death-- have the right to life, endowed by our Creator.

Can we ever agree that all human beings are persons with a right to life? The Mississippi personhood amendment is a great place to start.

29 comments:

  1. Great idea.

    Taking the pill (the regular one - not just the morning-after pill) then amounts to murder in case an embryo was already implanted. Any woman found guilty of such an atrocity should get life without parole or, preferably (an eye for an, um, cell that might eventually have become part of an eye), be executed.

    Since 80% of naturally conceived embryos gets flushed with the regular menstrual flow (a majority of souls in heaven having passed this way), let's make it mandatory that every woman collects her flow in a bottle, to be delivered at the local police station for a potential murder investigation. Drinking alcohol after sex should also be illegal, as it may jeopardize an embryo.

    As if we needed more evidence that religion has rotted Egnor's brain.

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  2. Can we ever agree that all human beings are persons with a right to life?

    I think we all already agree. What we don’t agree on is the definition of “human being”. If you honestly answer the question “what does it mean to be human?” I doubt the answer has anything to do with unique DNA or future development potential, and more to do with our shared common experiences and passions. While zygotes, blastocysts, embryos, and early Fetuses certainly have the potential to become human, the haven’t yet developed the unique characteristics that truly make us human.

    -KW

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  3. @troy:

    Thoughtful comment.

    Human life is human life. The legal consequences for killing vary with the circumstances. No one supports charging a woman who uses contraception that kills a embryo with murder. But is does kill a human being, and should not be sanctioned in law.

    Capital punishment should, in my view, be abolished. It is never moral to kill unless it is in self-defense and defense cannot be accomplished without killing.

    Natural miscarriage is no more a crime than natural death under other circumstances.

    Legal protection for all human life would be a sea change in our society. I support it, because it is an acknowledgement of the truth about human beings.

    Homicide is a broad concept, and the law already recognizes major differences in culpability between willful murder and lesser degrees of killing due to ignorance or carelessness.

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  4. @KW:

    Nonsense, and very dangerous nonsense. To wit:

    1) It is a biological fact that human life begins at conception. No debate. A human being is a living member of H. sapiens. No debate. Zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are human beings. No debate.

    2) Your argument that only human beings who have reached some threshold of accomplishment-- rationality, awareness, intelligence, shared experiences and passions, etc-- is a rationale for the worst kinds of evil. It is just that reasoning that has formed the basis for slavery, genocide, etc. "They're not as smart/aware/moral etc as we are" is the common justification for mans' worst crimes.

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  5. So Doctor, what does it mean to be human?

    -KW

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  6. First I would say elective abortion and contraception are two very different issues in my mind. They both deal with limiting the natural potential of human life, but the former is always killing: Infanticide. They are both tools of the social and racial engineers, but Abortion is of a different order of badness entirely.

    On Abortion and life at conception:
    When thinking about this, I find myself faced with potential once again.
    From the moment a human being is conceived in the womb, the potential for everything human is present. When we discuss abortion and right to life, we are talking about the same net result as execution.
    Consider: In both cases the human person involved has the potential to go forth and multiply, to edify others, to experience, to remember and share memories (a 'purpose' or 'function' of/in time?) to literally alter the course of man's history for better or worse. In each case, whether execution or abortion, that potential is removed.
    The potential of a prisoner or ward in also limited, but only briefly - it can be returned.
    An aborted human baby or an executed convict cannot. They have been removed from our time stream in all but memory. They once lived and are now dead. RIP.
    This is where the similarity ends, though. The convict may, in fact and despite the VERY flawed legal justice systems, be guilty. Hid death may be warranted in more than just the legal sense. It may seem just. For example, the convict may have killed innocents . If the innocents he killed were children, our sympathy for the convict's potential being stripped away by death may be excusably limited. I can even see the logic behind supporting the legal execution of such evil people, although I disagree with it on moral grounds.
    But who can justify the killing of a child who has literally only dreamt of life?
    What is exactly is the EXCUSE for such vile selfishness as killing a sleeping baby in it's mother's womb? It is inexperienced, unaware, asleep or unconscious. That is the excuse.
    Further you may here from the pro-choice folks on 'poverty' and 'rights'. You may here that the baby may have a 'hard life' and thus become a bad person, or a criminal. Or you may here that the baby itself may not be bad, but it may 'ruin' the life of a young woman.
    A kind of pre-emptive execution we call 'abortion'.
    Abort=prevent, stop. So...Abortion of what? POTENTIAL. HUMAN POTENTIAL. Human potential is ONLY possible - without miracle - where there is LIFE. HUMAN LIFE.
    It is really simple, actually - if you just THINK about it for a minute. Killing is wrong.
    Killing babies in or out of the womb is DOUBLY so. Such is murder of the most innocent and highly potential life on EARTH.
    It is an affront to humanity, morality, dignity, nature, creation... and yes: To God.
    Abortion is the calculated killing of such an innocent - the collapsing of ALL his/her potential and thus it is literally Evil.
    Banal, clinical, accepted, and utterly obvious EVIL.

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  7. Obviously. So what should the sentence be for breastfeeding, coffee or exercise? It can't be on the chain gang, as that kind of work is a veritable black hole of potential abortifacients. Like stress! What should a boss', friend's or husband's sentence be for stressing a [potentially] pregnant baby factory? How about some sort of program sending them around to schools to help girls stay [potentially] pregnant, like Scared Straight, but with less gang members and more [potentially] fertilized [potential] ovum?

    And which branch should the hymen raids fall under? The Internal Guard? Border Patrol? UteroCops or their elite division, S.N.A.T.C.H.? ("Ma'am, do you know why I pulled you over? [cop shows her calendar] Do you know you've been driving while ovulating? I'm gonna have to impound this uterus.")
    Or will it all fall under the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Punishment of Vice?

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  8. @KW:

    [So Doctor, what does it mean to be human?]

    Broad question. One could give a biological answer, or a metaphysical answer, or a social answer, or a psychological answer, etc.

    Here's my metaphysical answer, drawn from scholastic philosophy:

    There is a Chain of Being, from God to prime matter (highest to lowest). Things that exist are composites of form, matter, existence, spirit.

    Material things (rocks, inanimate stuff) have form and matter. Living things (plants, animals) have soul and matter (soul is the from of a living thing)

    There are immaterial spiritual beings- angels, who are composites of spirit, form and existence, without matter.

    God is pure Spirit and Existence itself.

    Man is unique. He is a living material being, and as such has soul and matter (and existence). But he also has spirit, created in God's image. He is the only thing that exists that is spiritual and material.

    To be human then is to be a created material and spiritual being with the potential to know God.

    The taxonomy of being is a fascinating subject, to me at least.

    It is of course only one way to answer the question "what does it mean to be human?"

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  9. Something like one or two out of every 100 pregnancies are 'ectopic'. Will there be enough morphine in Mississippi to keep these mothers unconscious while they and their 'little person' die?

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  10. "Man is unique. He is a living material being, and as such has soul and matter (and existence). But he also has spirit, created in God's image. He is the only thing that exists that is spiritual and material."

    Marx was right: religion really is like opium. Unless high on some powerful drugs, how else would you come up with such crap?

    What the hell is an 'image' of a supposedly infinitely powerful being?

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  11. Michael said: "No one supports charging a woman who uses contraception that kills a embryo with murder. "

    Really, Michael? If you polled 100 people who consider themselves conservative Catholics, and 100 more who consider themselves conservative Muslims, you don't think any of them would support charging a woman who uses contraception with murder?

    If this motion passes, does that mean that one identical twin can be considered a half a person (because the egg splits after "personhood" has been achieved in Mississippi)? Will they have to be accompanied by their twin to cast a single vote in Mississippi?

    Will chimeras be considered two persons and get two votes? Do they have two souls?

    If a limosine stalled in front of an oncoming train, and you only had time to open one door - saving either the driver, or the 5 people in the back of the limo, which door would you open?

    If a technician from a fertility lab were driving home and her car stalled on a train track, and you had time to save only one thing: the frightened young technician or the cooler full of 20 fertilized embryos she was carrying - which would you save?

    If it was a choice between saving the life of one of your children, or 5 of your wife's fertilized eggs, which would you save?

    Does society have as much responsibility toward an organism that is incapable of suffering as it does to one that can experience the full range of human suffering?

    Others have already asked the questions about miscarriage becoming murder. These are valid questions in the sick, twisted logic of conservative Mississippi.

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  12. CrusadeREX said: "First I would say elective abortion and contraception are two very different issues in my mind. They both deal with limiting the natural potential of human life, but the former is always killing: Infanticide. They are both tools of the social and racial engineers, but Abortion is of a different order of badness entirely. "

    Since some contraceptives either flush or prevent implantation of a fertilized embryo, how is this different than a "morning after" pill? What about a "morning after" pill taken 3 weeks later? Or 6 weeks? How are those different from early term abortion?

    What about the mother carrying triplets where one isn't doing well and is jeopardizing the others?

    It's a completely gray spectrum. The only place you can definitively draw the line without moral conflict is BEFORE conception - condoms, diaphrams, and other options that prohibit fertilization.

    Alas, hard as we try to promote the use of such things, well-funded ignoramuses fight tooth and nail to impede them. Now THAT is an indefensibly immoral position.

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  13. @RickK:

    Society certainly has a responsibility to reduce suffering.

    It also has a fundamental responsibility to protect human life.

    And the contradiction...?

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  14. "There is a Chain of Being, from God to prime matter (highest to lowest). Things that exist are composites of form, matter, existence, spirit.

    Material things (rocks, inanimate stuff) have form and matter. Living things (plants, animals) have soul and matter (soul is the from of a living thing)

    There are immaterial spiritual beings- angels, who are composites of spirit, form and existence, without matter. "

    Jesus H. Christ, this guy cracks me up. Plants have soul? How about bacteria? Viruses?

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  15. @RickK,

    "Since some contraceptives either flush or prevent implantation of a fertilized embryo, how is this different than a "morning after" pill? What about a "morning after" pill taken 3 weeks later? Or 6 weeks? How are those different from early term abortion?"
    They are early term abortions. Chemical abortions. The difference is a matter of method. One is done by the woman herself, the other is performed by in a surgery. There is no real difference in the end result.
    Contraceptives used correctly are intended to AVOID conception, not end it. The uses you have described above are ABUSES of those pharmaceuticals.
    The social effects of the common use and abuse of these drugs is another topic/conversation.
    My view is that KILLING unborn humans is wrong. I don't care HOW you kill them, or what your reasoning is.
    It is murder and I stand against it.

    "The only place you can definitively draw the line without moral conflict is BEFORE conception - condoms, diaphrams, and other options that prohibit fertilization. "
    That is exactly where I draw the line also. It is the only moral line: Conception.
    Life begins at conception.

    "Alas, hard as we try to promote the use of such things, well-funded ignoramuses fight tooth and nail to impede them."
    I am not sure how promoting contraception prevents abortion. I do not see the link. Consequence free sex does not promote chastity or sexual virtue. On the other hand, the same devices and drugs used by responsible, monogamous couples I have no objection to. I also do not agree with dictating sexual morality to individuals.
    So while I do not blame the rubbers, neither do I think they are a solution to the problems we are discussing here.
    I think the true issue lies with promiscuous lifestyle choices and to some degree the permissiveness (passivity) of modern parenting techniques.

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  16. @Anon,
    "Jesus H. Christ, this guy cracks me up. Plants have soul? How about bacteria? Viruses?"
    Yes. All living things have souls. Even uncultured reptiles...like you.

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  17. I guess that's what mr crusader-ex thinks when he pushes a button to blow up some muslims a few miles away: uncultured reptiles be gone praise jesus. Good to see a government program to keep the psychos off the streets at home.

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  18. CrusadeREX said: "I think the true issue lies with promiscuous lifestyle choices and to some degree the permissiveness (passivity) of modern parenting techniques."

    Ah... So you have enjoyed sex only within the bounds of marriage and at no other time? You have never taken an action that could in any way lead to a pregnancy out of wedlock?

    Is that true?

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  19. Michael said: Society certainly has a responsibility to reduce suffering.
    It also has a fundamental responsibility to protect human life.
    And the contradiction...?"

    If you really wanted to reduce the rate of abortion, you would promote contraception. It's that simple. Condoms stop unwanted babies. But priests and preachers and mullahs have a strong effect on society's acceptance or resistance to birth control.

    Oh, and once again you slink away from my questions. But hey, it's your blog.

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  20. @troy,
    "I guess that's what mr crusader-ex[SIC] thinks when he pushes a button to blow up some muslims[SIC] a few miles away: uncultured reptiles be gone praise jesus[SIC]."
    You really do hate the military! You'd guess wrong on all counts.
    1) I did not call the Muslims reptiles, I have Muslim friends and colleagues. I called YOU a reptile.
    2)My wars were all at 1000m or less. Field recon. No 'buttons'. Again, I had Muslims in my squadrons.
    3)The suggestion I would praise God, in Christ's name, for the death of enemies is a repulsive and offensive lie.
    You are a liar.

    "Good to see a government program to keep the psychos off the streets at home."
    Again, your hatred of the armed forces is naked. What am I to respond to that irrational nonsense with? All I can say is you come off as an ingrate and a coward...or perhaps an angry boy.
    Peter Pan? Maybe Tinkerbell?

    @RickK
    "Ah... So you have enjoyed sex only within the bounds of marriage and at no other time? You have never taken an action that could in any way lead to a pregnancy out of wedlock?
    Is that true?"
    My own sexual exploits prior to marriage are not at issue here. Nor is my intimacy with my wife or any partners I may have had. Your questions are far too personal to take seriously.
    Besides, I think I have made it quite clear I do not connect contraception with this conversation. The issue of life at conception affect ABORTION and various human embryo breeding programs. No one is suggesting banning prophylactics.

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  21. To my considerable surprise, Proposition 26 has apparently been defeated 55:45 in Mississippi.

    Of course, this was the correct result. A fertilized ovum is not a person, despite having the complete genetic makeup of Homo sapiens. A lot of development has to occur before 'personhood' is attained.

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  22. @bach:

    I didn't think it would pass, despite my hope. We are too far down the road to just tell the honest truth, which is what the amendment would have done.

    We'll have to continue to try to protect life piecemeal, as we have been doing.

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  23. RickK:

    [If you really wanted to reduce the rate of abortion, you would promote contraception. It's that simple.]

    The evidence is clear: contraceptive use increases abortions, because contraceptive use fosters promiscuity. Most women who get abortions were using contraception when they got pregnant.

    [But priests and preachers and mullahs have a strong effect on society's acceptance or resistance to birth control.]

    Birth control is massively accepted by society. It's accepted by the overwhelming majority of Catholics, for goodness sake. Clergy have been singularly unsuccessful in promoting the Catholic understanding of contraception.

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  24. I don’t have any data to back this up, and I don’t have the time to research it, but I would imagine that weeks ago a substantial majority of Mississippi voters would have agreed with the statement “Human life starts at conception”.

    What changed? Do a majority of Mississippian voters now believe life doesn’t begin at conception, or that it does, but they would rather kill these little humans than give up their hormonal birth control and have to use a condom?

    -KW

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  25. Crusader-X:

    "You really do hate the military! You'd guess wrong on all counts.
    1) I did not call the Muslims reptiles, I have Muslim friends and colleagues. I called YOU a reptile."

    I don't hate the military at all. I dislike certain members of the military who like to brag about their work and use offensive names like "crusader". I was in the army myself, drafted into the medical troops for 18 months. Didn't see any action, but had a good time.

    Now I study reptiles for a living, but I'm not one of them.

    "2)My wars were all at 1000m or less. Field recon. No 'buttons'. Again, I had Muslims in my squadrons.
    3)The suggestion I would praise God, in Christ's name, for the death of enemies is a repulsive and offensive lie.
    You are a liar."

    I said it was just a guess. Relax, soldier.

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  26. Yesterday my wife didn't want to have sex because she "had an headache". It's disgusting, because she deprived a potential baby of existence. And it's not the first time.

    I'm married to a mass murderer.

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  27. "I don't hate the military at all."
    Bullshit. Your just too cowardly to be up front about it.

    "I dislike certain members of the military who like to brag about their work and use offensive names like "crusader"."
    The feeling is mutual. CRUSADER is/was my callsign. Don't like it? Who cares.... I sure as hell don't.
    But 'brag'? I am not even allowed to talk about most of it. I signed an oath. The only aspect I would brag about is my men, if it were permitted.
    I understand what you're saying: I don't like you either. Nor would most military minds.

    "I was in the army myself, drafted into the medical troops for 18 months. Didn't see any action, but had a good time"
    Drafted? You're my hero!

    "Now I study reptiles for a living, but I'm not one of them."
    Perhaps it just your subjects rubbing off on you, then. I sincerely apologize... to the REPTILES.

    "I said it was just a guess. Relax, soldier."
    Perfectly calm here, just calling you out for the BIGOT you are, Troy.

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  28. CRUSADER. It’s hard to imagine a more stupid callsign for western soldier fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s no wonder that we’ve spent so much in lives and treasure with so little to show for it if with this kind of smarts on the pointy end of the spear.

    -KW

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  29. Indeed, KW. Using a call sign like Crusader is a very clever way to win the hearts and minds of the people over there. Good thinking of our soldier who likes to lick Egnor's heels.

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