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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vote No on 26, Mississippi - Here is why

Now that the Personhood for Zygotes Amendment has been defeated in Mississippi, I would like to remind people that most of the things posted here will also relate to any time Full "Person" Rights are given to a fertilized egg.  Please, be ever vigilant to Protect Democracy, Protect Women and Protect Life. Vote NO to any "Personhood for Zygotes" attempt.

 On November 8th, 2011 in the General Election for Mississippi, there will be three Ballot Initiatives to vote on. 26 - to redefine "person" in our constitution, 27 - to require voter ID (ie disenfranchise voters) and 31 - to restrict the use of eminent domain. The full, actual text of 26 is below. Vote No on 26, Mississippi!

I've put a lot of thought into this initiative. I've tried to keep this updated with the most recent developments.  There is a lot of information, so please bear with me and read this through.  Where I have supporting documentation, there are links within the text that are blue and underlined.

First, a video.

A Conversation on Mississippi Initiative 26

by: bobbykearan
at the website XtraNormal

The "Personhood" initiative only defines the word "person" in the Mississippi constitution as "every human being from the moment of fertilization." That is before a woman is actually pregnant! If you think this is an anti-abortion bill, think again.  It says nothing about outlawing abortion. It says nothing about outlawing the morning after pill. It says nothing about anything else. All results of the bill will have to be figured out by the police arresting people and the courts deciding what the change to the definition of person means. It might not even outlaw abortion. It might have lots of other, perhaps unintended, consequences.

For instance :

Birth control pills and IUD pregnancy prevention methods would be outlawed by the 'personhood amendment' (because they prevent a fertilized egg - which would instantly become a fully legal 'person' - from attaching to the uterine wall as a rare third stage effect, but it still happens), further increasing these numbers.  The "yes" group claims otherwise, even though their own board member, Dr. McMillan says, "I painfully agree that birth control pills do in fact cause abortions." (see the 'lies exposed' link further down for more details)

I have come to believe that the wording of i26 actually targets IVF to put it out of business.

Drinking and smoking during pregnancy would go from just being risky to becoming criminal negligence. Women who have miscarriages would have to endure investigation for possible criminal charges, from negligence up to and including murder. You think not? There is already legal precedent - 15 year old Rennie Gibbs was charged in Mississippi with Depraved Heart Murder in December, 2006 after a miscarriage. (see pregnant women who lose babies face murder charges - Thanks to Jill S. Butler for that link and this "what does personhood look like in practice?" article)
 A commitment to pre-embryonic personhood would require us to investigate these miscarriages to ensure that no foul play was involved in the loss of these persons.  This does not necessarily mean that all women experiencing miscarriages would be prosecuted; however, our legal framework requires an investigation when there has been a loss of life. - Jonathan F. Will (an assistant professor of law at Mississippi College School of Law, serves as director of the law school’s Bioethics and Health Law Center)
26 leaves no exception for rape.  Are we going to tell the victim that even though she was forced to conceive, we are going to double the victimization and force her to carry the child?  It is fine if a rape victim does want to carry the baby and is happy doing so.  But shouldn't that be her choice? Remember, if 26 passes, there will be no 'morning after' pill nor RU486 nor even birth control pills. On top of that, the rapist can have visitation rights or even sue for custody!!

There are many more possible legal ramifications in addition to the stated intent of outlawing abortions. Supporters will say, "The Bill doesn't say that!" Well, the initiative doesn't say it outlaws abortion either.  All it does say is that "Person" is redefined to be all humans from the moment of fertilization. Everything else is up to the courts to decide.  They might not rule it outlaws abortions. In fact, since Federal Law supersedes State Law, it can't.

If the "Personhood Amendment" passes - and survives the expensive constitutional court challenges that will follow and the courts decide it can outlaw abortion in Mississippi - we will have the following increases every year :
  • An additional 54 girls under 15 will give birth.
  • An additional 685 teenage girls will give birth.
  • An additional 1163 young, college age women will give birth.
  • 743 more Mississippi babies will live in poverty.
  • 646 additional people will receive SNAP benefits (aka Food Stamps).
  • 210 more Mississippians, on average, will be unemployed.
  • 226 more per year will be incarcerated in our prisons.
  • 3 of those babies will eventually be homeless, 2 with no shelter at all.
  • 585 more people per year will be uncertain as to whether they will eat their next meal or not – 206 will go hungry.
Mississippi now has "Abstinence Only" or "Abstinence Plus" education policies, despite their horrendous track record of ineffectiveness and in some cases increases in teen pregnancy, we would likely see an increase in these numbers. (see Open Education article.)
If you take into consideration that most of the children born to unwed and/or teenage mothers will need welfare, many of those numbers will be even greater.  If you consider the loss of education, opportunity and job/income loss that sometimes goes along with an unplanned pregnancy, the cost to Mississippi is even greater. For those 739 teen births that would be forced to occur, Mississippi taxpayers would be on the hook for an additional $16 Million dollars. (for more on the cost of teen births, read this JFP article.)

In addition, I believe in personal responsibility. In this case, if the State of Mississippi forces a woman, who does not want to, to give birth, then all the expenses of the birth and the care of the child should be the responsibility of the State.  There is also a certain case to be made that in such cases, the fertilized egg - and by extension, the State - is holding the woman hostage until it is developed and delivered.

Abortion is a hard choice to make, but it is a choice that, when made, is often the best for all involved in the decision.  It is not a choice made frivolously. I've been involved in making that decision and am still certain that it was the right thing to do.  I am all for providing education, assistance and alternatives to those faced with the circumstances that cause the need to consider this decision.  I do also firmly believe that Government should not interfere in such a private decision between a woman, perhaps her family, and their medical professionals.

How Personhood USA and the Bills they support will hurt ALL pregnant women (video - you have to watch this! Even anti-abortionists have suffered!)

"If you want to invite Big Brother into your bedroom, vote yes on 26"
"If you want to keep government out of health care, vote no on 26"

Now watch this video! Trust Families!

For another good blog post about how bad of an idea 26 is, read this Feministing post.

There are two amazing notes on facebook...
Ricky and Tony

Also read my newer post : vote yes on 26 - lies exposed
and how Anti-Abortion people are not "Pro-Life"
For your "Vote No on 26" bumper stickers and a t-shirt, go to http://www.zazzle.com/ms_bobbykearan 

Watch my New Video - Every Child

Also check out Parents Against MS 26.

Also see the Facebook groups "Vote no on Mississippi Amendment 26" and "Mississippians against Personhood Amendment" and "Mississippians for Healthy Families"

In October 2007, The Guardian reported :

Last November it became a crime for a woman to have an abortion in Nicaragua, even if her life was in mortal danger. So far it has resulted in the death of at least 82 women. (11 months, 82 deaths)
Science may say that life begins at conception, but this amendment wants to say a "person" exists up to two weeks before conception - at the moment of fertilization - when up to 90% of all eggs fertilized naturally don't make it to the point of implantation, aka "conception."

The Personhood Amendment : ( I will not link to their fact distorting website )

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." <snip>The entire proposed Amendment is as follows:
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." This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.

I've collected some from comments on the groups "Vote no on Mississippi Amendment 26" and "Mississippians against Personhood Amendment" :
  • So does this mean that said person is eligible for welfare benefits immediately after fertilization?
  • Would smoking one cigarette or having one drink while pregnant carry the same penalties as giving them to a child?
  • (A pregnant woman's) rights would be pitted against the rights of the fetus inside her and the court system/law enforcement will have to determine, via an as-yet-not-invented-process, what you and your doctor can and cannot decide to do, whether that be use the birth control method of your choice or receive life-saving medical treatment. Too poor to go through the court system? Too bad.
  • Forcing women to have babies that they don't want and/or can't care for...this is just going to lead to an entire generation of neglected children and bad parenting.
  • This law will eliminate all forms of birth control except abstinence and condoms. No more pill, no more IUD, no more hormonal contraceptive.
  • It could be used to dictate prenatal care and birth choices for women, because it is deemed by law (not medicine) as the "best" way to protect the rights of the fetus.
  • The wording of the bill is absurd. . . it makes someone who takes the morning-after pill a murderer!
  • I've already been told another pregnancy will kill me - I refuse to let the state take away MY right to life.
  • What if someone has one of these IUDs now that are good for 5 years. I've only had it in about half the time. Is there going to be a "recall" where the clinic is going to call me and I have to go have it removed if this passes?
  • What is the official life-begins-at-conception stance on identical twins? Did God put two souls in the one cell at the beginning? Did he add an extra soul after the split? If not, is one twin a soulless monster? Also, If he put in two souls at once because he knew it would become twins, wouldn't it therefore be logical to assume that he put no souls in the fetus he knew would be aborted?

Some Facts and Figures used in calculating the numbers used in the above summary, with links that are worth reading :

Johnston’s Archive
Over at 10 year period from 2000 to 2009, Mississippi has averaged 43,620 births per year, with 3,231 abortions per year.

Abortion Facts
by 1995 numbers, 1.7% of those were girls under 15, 21.2 % were between 16 and 19, 36% were women between 20 and 24.  88% were before 12 weeks. 97% were before 15 weeks.

Measure of America
More than 1 in 5 Mississippians live below the poverty line – which is over 20%.

Google Public Data
Average unemployment in Mississippi – not counting the aftermath of the recent republican policy led recession – is around 6.5%.

State Health Facts
702 Mississippi residents per 100,000 citizens are incarcerated - .7%. Out of 2,867,200 Citizens, 575,674 receive food stamp support (SNAP) – 20%. .09% of state residents are without a home, more than half of those have no shelter.
23% of the citizens live in poverty.

Inside Mississippi : Societal Distress
18.1% of households in Mississippi didn’t know where their next meal was coming from or if they would get the next meal. 6.4% went hungry.

Read this book :

The Handmaid's Tale (Everyman's Library)

For other data, see - Census dot Gov

A Letter about 26
Bishop of the Mississippi Episcopal Church, The Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III, issues a statement saying VOTE NO on i26 :

My dear friends,

My deep reservations about abortion and the death penalty grow out of my abiding belief in the sanctity of human life and the arbitrary nature of these actions. I am not, however, a pacifist in regards to war. I do believe... that some very serious moral decisions are not simply choices between good and evil, but rather in the case of two evils, choices between the lesser of two evils. Such is the complexity of human moral decision-making in a fallen world.

I appreciate the intentions of those who have supported Proposition 26, what has been called the Personhood Amendment. I share their passion for the sanctity of human life. However, I am gravely concerned about the unintended consequences of this legislation. The moral nightmares of doctors no longer able to give preference to saving the life of the mother in such cases as an ectopic pregnancy and the uncertain impact on in-vitro fertilization are real. Thus, the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Medical Association has announced that it cannot support this legislation.

The legal nightmares arising from this legislation are also very real. The word “person” is used over 9,400 times in the Mississippi Annotated Code and the implications for mass confusion and decades of legal challenges over every use of the term are staggering.

For their own reasons, Roman Catholic bishops in several states, including Mississippi, have said they could not support this particular legislation.

While I recognize the complexities of such moral decisions and the need for each of us to make our own informed and prayerful choices, you need to know that I share the aforementioned concerns about the unintended consequences of this legislation. Thus, I cannot support Proposition 26 on the November 8th ballot in Mississippi.

Please feel free to share this letter with whomever you wish.


The Rt. Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III