From the New York Times:
A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder. [...]
Many doctors and women’s health advocates say the proposals would cause a dangerous intrusion of criminal law into medical care, jeopardizing women’s rights and even their lives.
The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and “morning-after pills,” which prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.
The Mississippi amendment is the demon baby you’d expect from the unholy copulation of religiosity and scientific ignorance, as one doctor points out:
Dr. Randall S. Hines , a fertility specialist in Jackson working against Proposition 26 with the group Mississippians for Healthy Families, said that the amendment reflects “biological ignorance.” Most fertilized eggs, he said, do not implant in the uterus or develop further.
“Once you recognize that the majority of fertilized eggs don’t become people, then you recognize how absurd this amendment is,” Dr. Hines said. He fears severe unintended consequences for doctors and women dealing with ectopic or other dangerous pregnancies and for in vitro fertility treatments.
For those folks, Mississippian or otherwise, who think that a zygote is a person, here’s a picture to helpfully illustrate the error of your reasoning.
The Economist also covered this issue, with one reader, Benjamin Iwai of Missouri, writing a letter to the editor that displayed the merit of consistency vis-à-vis the idea of embryos being persons:
Sir, I was delighted to read your article about the effort in Mississippi to pass a state constitutional amendment to recognise embryos as people from the moment of fertilisation. My wife and I have been considering IVF to address our lack of success in conceiving a child. Mississippi’s proposed amendment gives us even more reason to pursue this treatment, and to move to Mississippi.
After the procedure we will insist on taking custody of any extra embryos that result from IVF – it is our right as parents after all. Once safely in our home we plan to keep them in a freezer in our basement and list them as child dependents for tax purposes, thus giving us a tax deduction. To protect the lives of our children in case of a power outage we will buy a backup generator. Anything less would be bad parenting.
HT: Jerry Coyne