BALLOT INITIATIVES: For and Against – DEFINITION OF A PERSON|INITIATIVE #26

By Lynn Evans | Public Health Advocate, Jackson

Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof?


FOR THE PROPOSAL

Most Americans are probably aware that the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade gives a woman the legal right to abort her unborn child.
What most Americans probably don’t know, however, is that during that same court case, Justice Potter Stewart raised the issue of the unborn child’s legal rights. Justice Stewart said the “basic constitutional question” was “whether or not the unborn fetus is a person.”
In questioning Sarah Weddington, one of the pro-abortion attorneys arguing the case before the court, Justice Stewart asked: “If it were established that an unborn fetus is a person within the protection of the 14th Amendment, you would have almost an impossible case here, would you not?”
Weddington admitted that this was true.
Amendment 26 – The Mississippi Personhood Amendment – is a citizens’ initiative to amend the Mississippi Constitution to define personhood as beginning at fertilization or “the functional equivalent thereof.” Its purpose is to protect all life, regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction.
I think most Americans, deep down inside, when they are not arguing politics, believe an unborn child is a person. When a friend announces that she is pregnant, most of us ask, “When is the baby due?” We don’t talk about the fetus or the blob of tissue or the non-entity. We ask about the baby.
In responding to the common sense argument in favor of Amendment 26, the opposition – including groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood – ignores the issue of personhood altogether.
Instead, these groups use scare tactics and warn of drastic consequences should Amendment 26 pass. The passage of the Personhood Amendment, they claim, would outlaw the use of contraceptives, result in the criminal prosecution of a woman who suffers a miscarriage, and end in vitro fertilization, which helps couples who want to become pregnant.
These are cruel and misleading assertions pushed by groups like Planned Parenthood, which as the nation’s largest abortion provider profits greatly from the legalized murder of unborn children.
For those fair-minded Mississippians who want to know the truth about Proposition 26, they can visit www.yeson26.net to find the answers to the half-truths of the pro-abortion lobby.
But when you enter the voting booth on November 8th, please ask yourself these simple questions: Is an unborn child a person or not? What does your heart tell you? And if an unborn boy or girl is a person, shouldn’t he or she receive the constitutional protection the rest of us have – the right not to be murdered?
Sure, we as Mississippians can disagree on many things, but the personhood of an unborn child shouldn’t be one of them.
Don Wildmon is chairman emeritus of the American Family Association, headquartered in Tupelo.


AGAINST THE PROPOSAL

Sometimes an idea that seems promising has disastrous consequences. This is true for the Personhood Amendment.
In the 33 years since the first in vitro baby, hundreds of Mississippi couples who just wanted a baby of their own have thanked medical science for in vitro fertilization [IVF]. The treatment requires “harvesting” the mother’s eggs, fertilizing the eggs outside the womb, and implanting the best one or two zygotes back into the womb. There, with luck, they will develop into healthy babies.
Since more than two eggs are harvested for IVF but only the best two candidates are usually implanted, what happens to the other fertilized eggs if they are defined as people? Can they be frozen, as is usually done? If frozen fertilized embryos are people, can they inherit property?
Medicine defines a pregnancy as an implanted egg. If a fertilized egg in a petri dish were to be defined as a person by passage of the Personhood Amendment, it is very likely that IVF would no longer be an option in Mississippi – especially for couples at risk for having a baby with a life-threatening genetic defect who now can choose IVF and have a healthy baby.
Not only would Mississippi couples who just want a baby be denied the option of IVF, certain forms of birth control – like IUDs – would be suddenly illegal, and miscarriages could become suspect.
Effective treatment of severe preeclampsia, molar gestation, and early ectopic pregnancies would be jeopardized by passage of the Personhood Amendment, threatening women’s lives. New stem cell treatments for patients with Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and cancers like leukemia and choriocarcinoma are also at risk.
If it were your friend or family member who needed the best treatment available, would you deny it to them?
Vote NO on the Personhood Amendment.
Lynn Evans, a public health advocate who lives in Jackson, wrote a summary against the initiative for a brochure distributed by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.