October 22, 2011 10:45:00 PM
The controversy surrounding the proposed Amendment 26 to the Mississippi Constitution is overwhelming, or at least it was until I had an epiphany of sorts yesterday.
I've had discussions with members of the medical field, attorneys, friends, family, and even co-workers all in the name of trying to come to a conclusion about how to vote in November. My initial reaction after reading the proposed amendment was "ok, so this makes sense based on my view of human life" but then I began researching further. I read articles and blogs and there seemed to be valid reasons not to support this amendment. I read about how this could affect birth control, women's health, and IVF methods. I had a discussion with an attorney I truly respect and find to be an all around likable guy. He mentioned a doctor friend who specialized in IVF and feared the amendment would put him out of business. I was hearing all this and began thinking that maybe my initial gut reaction was not the right one.
Then I came across comment sections on various blogs and newspaper articles. Wow, people sure are quick to bash good ole Mississippi. Mississippians and Non-Mississippians alike were making all kinds of insulting comments about how stupid this proposed amendment makes our state appear. There were laments about moving backwards, taking away years of women's rights, and religious zealots trying to interfere with the separation of church and state. I must admit my first reaction to most of these comments were "Whoa buddy, back up - I am religious and I am a Mississippian, and I am also a woman. Who the heck do you think you are to insult my friends and neighbors?" I told myself those nasty comments couldn't possibly be aimed at me personally!
And then I came across the comments that some might see as giving credence to those insulting comments. I love a passionate Christian as much as the next girl, but not everyone should try to spread the word if you know what I mean. A basic understanding of the English language or at least the use of spell check goes a long way in getting your message across in a clear and intelligent manner. *Note to self - Please, please remember to proof and use spell check before sharing these meanderings.
Ok, now let's get back to topic at hand, Mississippi's proposed Amendment 26 or Personhood Amendment. Based on the actual wording of the amendment, human life is defined as beginning at fertilization. There is no mention of abortion, IVF methods, birth control, or any of the other topics that seem to be such cause for concern. Now I am not so naive as to think that the creators of this amendment do not have an agenda, but all of the sudden I had one of those light bulb moments when things seemed to become very clear. My inner voice (yes, I watched a good bit of Oprah over the years) spoke to me and I found what it said to be profound within the context of this argument.
Do I think human life begins at conception? Why yes, yes I do. And ironically enough, most everyone I've talked to agrees with me. To be fair, I've talked to more mothers than not, but most every discussion I've had was similar in that no one was willing to say that life didn't begin until birth. As a woman who carried a child in her womb, I know, beyond any doubt, that my son was a little person as soon as he was conceived. I knew I was pregnant before the six week mark and "butterbean" as he was affectionately known was already consuming my heart and mind. I think most mothers probably agree that they too felt their little one was a person way before they actually held him or her in their arms. I also think that most women who have suffered miscarriage will tell you that they felt the loss of their child rather than the loss of some scientifically explained mass of tissue or whatever the proper science and medical terms might be.
So, back to my epiphany - I now realized that my definition of human life aligned perfectly with the definition as stated in Amendment 26. It then became clear to me that all the other gray areas were just that - gray areas in a black and white issue. I believe that human life begins at conception. I believe in the value of all human life. I believe that as human beings we should all respect other's right to life. I believe there is no reason this definition should not exist in law. Now, as for all the arguments about a women's right to choose, possible birth control ramifications, IVF complications, etc. - I believe that when I go to the polls in November I vote for this amendment because I agree with every word. I then know that I did not allow fear of messes created within our legal system sway me from standing up for what I know to be right in my heart. I'm not saying there isn't still plenty to debate when it comes to abortion and birth control methods as well as fertilization methods. I'm just saying that maybe each one of those discussions needs to be based on the principal that human life is affected, and I'm not talking about just the life of the woman involved. As a woman and a mother I feel it is my responsibility to vote in favor of this amendment. Until my child has a voice of his own, and even after, it is my job to stand up and speak for him. That wonderful, frightening, and all important responsibility was given to me the moment he was conceived.
Shannon A. Wallace
West Point, MS
jessiehendrix commented at 10/23/2011 3:28:00 AM:
It is blogs like these that make me worry about the USA. The legal system is so damaged and people do not seem to take this into consideration when voting on such controversial topics. Sure, I agree that a life begins at conception but I am still pro-choice. But that is besides the point. Putting that definition of life into the constitution opens the door for any religious extremest to legally enforce any of the worries that the anti-26 group have. It may not be the outright intention of the yeson26 side but those concerns will definatly become an issue fast. So many people say that they will vote yes for the only reason that they believe life begins at conception but that is jejune reasoning. Unfortunatly, that is how most of the American population thinks, short sighted and naive. I will be voting no because I know how the legal boundries of this will be twisted and abused if it gets passed.
frank commented at 10/23/2011 9:31:00 AM:
"Sure, I agree that a life begins at conception but I am still pro-choice."
Huh? You are saying you support murder...
kj commented at 10/23/2011 3:55:00 PM:
It's about time that someone stood up to protect the right of rapists to have their progeny carried to term.
kj commented at 10/23/2011 4:02:00 PM:
The above comment was written to bookend Frank's comment, not to reduce Shannon's arguments to an absurd level.
frank commented at 10/23/2011 5:07:00 PM:
I suppose so KJ since the little baby apparently has no rights.
frank commented at 10/23/2011 5:50:00 PM:
When you get down to it, the whole debate is to determine at what arbitrary age a person has rights and can no longer be killed like an animal. Is it at conception? 6 weeks? 12 weeks? Up until birth? Maybe we should set the age at 6 years after birth then if we have a kid who looks like he is going to be a pain in the ass or has expensive medical problems we can just conveniently kill him. Sound absurd? If life and rights don't logically start at conception then there is nothing to prevent "the law" from assigning any age to the beginning of life. When you abort a child you KILL it, like it or not. It really doesn't matter how that child was conceived, only how old it is. If we can't kill the offspring of a rape at 3 years old then neither should we kill one after whatever age we arbitrarily set with our "laws".
So KJ, you are correct. If the "law" sets that age at conception, then it will protect that innocent baby who has committed no crime, with the side effect that it allows a rapist's child to be born and forces the raped mother to carry that child to birth. The reality is that it is not a perfect world.
The voters have a choice. The individual dilemma is do you support the absolute that life begins at conception and accept the side effects, or do you take a relativistic approach and consider how the child was conceived and/or at what age it is okay to kill it, also accepting those side effects. An atheist like KJ has no moral qualms to weigh on this decision. The religious among us certainly do however.
Let the people vote. When it is all said and done the human "law" will either reflect an absolute or a relativistic view and we will all live with the side effects.
maddawg commented at 10/23/2011 8:21:00 PM:
Hell, let's get to being another China, shall we?
kj commented at 10/23/2011 10:33:00 PM:
Atheist is not equivalent to amoral. As you well know, there are already many reasonable restrictions on abortion. Like many on the side of this measure, you fail to accept that reasonable people can examine the available evidence and reach different conclusions about how best to balance the rights of the unborn with the rights of actual living human beings; that some people do not believe that embryos and fetuses are the moral or physical equivalent of babies.
Only one side of this debate is trying to force everyone to live by their own moral code, which is the equivalent of telling people that they do not have the right to adopt one of their own choosing. I find it ironic that religious people are so quick to put the religious freedom of others to a democratic vote, oblivious to the fact that doing so endangers their own.
frank commented at 10/23/2011 11:13:00 PM:
"reasonable people can examine the available evidence and reach different conclusions about how best to balance the rights of the unborn with the rights of actual living human beings"
Once again, the debate is to set the age, in law, of as you call it, of an "actual living human being". Those "different conclusions" are relative to what? How we feel this month, or next election? Let's kill this baby at 20 weeks but next year we can vote to allow it out to 28 weeks.
Your religious freedom is not being put to a vote. Feel free to remain an atheist but don't cry foul if you find yourself in the minority. In fact just consider this a referendum on the age of "living human beings" as set by the laws of the state and leave religion out of it. This is a vote to set it at age zero, if you don't agree, vote against it.
roscoe p. coltrain commented at 10/24/2011 5:41:00 AM:
Sit down Frank, we all know what ya'll are up to, and we know how hard it is for your kind to resist ramming your religion down others throats.
Call it what you may, but this is exactly what you are trying to do. Truth be known, there won't be a single one of you show up to raise this kid you insist on people having, but you'll certainly tell them how to do it, won't you?
Have a seat.
frank commented at 10/24/2011 8:11:00 AM:
Rosco, I'll let you sit while thousands are killed each year. You seem happy to sit and criticize others with your juvenile comments. I am a little surprised that on this topic you take such a liberal view. Maybe you and Birney have something in common after all.
ml2010 commented at 10/24/2011 11:18:00 AM:
One question. If your uterus lining is thinned because of taking the pill,having an iud, or taking the depo shot will you face prosecution? Under this amendment the fertilized egg that is not allowed to implant in the uterus is a living human being. One more question. If you are unable to have children and have to use in vitro fertilization which fertilizes eggs outside of the human body knowing for sure that not all fertilized eggs(human beings) will live. Does that make you a murderer? Under this law the answer is yes and yes. You are a murderer for using birth control and for utilizing in vitro fertilization. You cannot get around these questions they are logical conclusions. This law, which will never stand up in court, is so intrusive I find it hard to believe that anyone is considering voting for it. The yes voters are brainwashed into believing that this is just about abortion without doing any further research on their own. What government agency would you have track womens menstrual cycles? It is a joke and is why a state like Colorado shot this amendment down by a landslide.
frank commented at 10/24/2011 1:33:00 PM:
ml2010 this law just sets an age for human rights. The answers to your questions are not necessarily "yes and yes". When considering criminal offenses, intent must be and will be considered.
ml2010 commented at 10/24/2011 2:08:00 PM:
Explain to me how intent would work in this case? You take a pill knowing that it may kill a human being. I do believe that is intent. At minimum I would say it is negligent manslaughter. Same with in vitro fertilization. The people putting this amendment forward say on their own site that in vitro will have to be completely changed. This amendment is a very bad idea. I am 100% positive it will never stand up in court but it is just the point that so many people are for infringing on me and my families freedom.
frank commented at 10/24/2011 3:22:00 PM:
The intent of the pill is to prevent pregnancy and the intent of in vitro fertilization is to create human life. The intent of an abortion is to purposely kill an infant. The fear mongering the left is doing on this issue is obvious. How the courts actually rule on the particular issues is far from a "given" as you portray it.
FWIW, I don't expect this proposal to pass. The unborn lost their rights many years ago in our courts. It is interesting to watch the debate continue as we attempt to rationalize that fateful decision.
I encourage all to go vote!
ml2010 commented at 10/24/2011 3:49:00 PM:
Prevent pregnancy yes but by what means? If you knowingly take a pill or a shot or have an implant that can kill a fertilized egg or keep it from implanting then you are responsible for that act. If you want to get rid of abortion then make an amendment 27 that bans abortion but these people have a much wider agenda. This is a post from their website:
It won't ban or penalize in vitro fertilization.
However, it will reform the current in vitro practices. The process of in vitro fertilization simply means that the egg and the sperm are joined outside of the body of the woman. In modern practice, fertility clinics will often create multiple human beings and then select the ones that they consider to be the best. The others are then discarded like medical waste. In Britain alone, 1.2 million human beings were created in in vitro fertility clinics and then discarded. In the U.S. 95% of the human beings created for in vitro fertilization were destroyed. The Colorado Personhood Amendment would not prohibit in vitro fertilization, instead it would force medical scientists to come up with ethical alternatives to the mass production and mass extermination of human beings at the hands of fertility clinics.
raider commented at 10/25/2011 8:10:00 AM:
I am glad to see that a number of people have done their homework on this amendment. It's amazing to see how many advocates of this amendment either don't know what the amendment actually means or have chosen to simply lie about it.
Amendment 26 is poorly written and designed to achieve a political objective by deceiving the people. It is being pushed by a bunch of people that have no problem telling lies and invoking God in the same sentence. I encourage everyone to vote NO on this amendment.
frank commented at 10/26/2011 9:51:00 AM:
Now we get schoolyard name calling. Matches your postings over on the Schweddy Balls article perfectly.
bobo perkins commented at 11/3/2011 9:53:00 AM:
This amendment is a disgrace. The ultimate goal is not just banning abortions but also restriting a woman's ability to use contraception (of her choice) during procreation.
IVF practices would be changed, to the point whereby success rates would be less than optimal and given the high cost of IVF, would no longer be worth the cost and impact upon a woman's health.
Also, what of etopic pregnacies, those whereby the non-person zygote implants into the fallopian tube, rather than the uterus. There is only two methods to saving a woman's life when this occurs. Removing the tube, or taking methotrexate, both of which kills the zygote. Under this amendment, neither would be legal, so the woman dies?
The medical field is not black and white as the author of the commentary notes above. It's all shades of gray. And medical decisions about pregnancy and a woman's health should be between a woman and her doctor. They should not be based upon some silly notion that a fertilzed egg is a person.
You make your choices, let others make theirs.
p.s. Isn't Mississippi #1 with out-of-wedlock births, #highest percentage of its population in poverty (22%), most obese, etc. Shouldn't you do something about the issues you live with every day, instead of creating new ones.
p.s.s. Oh. And I'm sure the conservative (religious) folks are ok with increasing their state tax rates to pay for all the children who are going to be abandoned into foster care, right? I mean, you can make a woman have a baby, but she can always give it back to the state, since the state is the one that forced her to carry it to term.
1. Possumhaw: Something stinks in the Prairie LOCAL COLUMNS
3. Leonard Pitts: King's words still ring true ... 61 years on NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Editorial cartoon for 1-15-18 NATIONAL COLUMNS