By NEMS Daily Journal
The underlying question remains children’s lives
The Supreme Court got it wrong. In its judgment against Dred Scott, it determined that slaves were an “inferior and subordinate class” to whom “it is impossible to believe that these right and privileges were intended to be extended.” Constitutionally, slaves were not entitled to human rights. The abolitionists’ response was to amend the Constitution to extend these rights and end slavery. Many now believe a similar miscarriage of justice occurred with Roe vs. Wade, and, not surprisingly, these new abolitionists are pursuing a similar strategy of amending our state’s constitution to end abortion.
Amendment 26 defines personhood as starting at fertilization, thereby ensuring human rights to all persons even before they are born. The intent of the amendment is twofold. It intends to end abortion as a means of taking life. It also seeks to protect newly formed humans (embryos) within in the field of advanced reproductive technologies, like in vitro fertilization and cloning.
Many have resisted the amendment not on moral grounds but for its unintended consequences. The claim is that the amendment will eliminate birth control, criminalize miscarriages, and impede physicians from caring for life threatening conditions such as ectopic pregnancy and choriocarcinoma. These scary claims have reasonable counter claims. Only abortifacient contraception would be illegal and not the majority of hormonal birth control pills. Personhood for the unborn will not criminalize miscarriage any more than it criminalizes automobiles as the leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 9. In the case of ectopic pregnancy and choriocarcinoma, current law and legal principle would legally protect physicians in the management of pregnancies that threaten a woman’s life.
Conversely, it is reasonable to consider the consequences, intended or otherwise, of not passing the amendment. Abortions will continue in Mississippi at a pace of over 2,000 a year. Likewise, embryos in the IVF lab will be treated as property and not persons, leaving open the door for mass human production, genetic selection, human harvesting and human trafficking.
By dismissing the moral issues, voting against the amendment would avoid the expense and inconvenience of making the amendment work. This same argument could have been used to defend slavery. In refusing to accept slaves as persons with rights, economic hardships and social chaos could have been prevented. Yet, freedom for slaves prevailed and history has approved the decision to avoid doing what is easy at the expense of what is right. We find ourselves at a similar crossroads.
Before voting against this amendment for the things you think it does wrong, consider what is does right. Limiting types of contraception could eliminate abortions. More legal paperwork affords more human rights. Constraining the power of IVF and cloning means expanding the rights of the preborn. After all, we are talking about our children. They are never easy, convenient or affordable but they are ours. Let us endure what is necessary to ensure what is just. Do not look away from the underlying question. Are our children, before they are born, truly human beings, and do they deserve the same rights as every other person in our state?
D. Eric Webb, MD
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