published Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

An egg, not a person

Poll
Do you believe fertilized human eggs are human beings?

Mississippi voters are considered likely to approve a statewide ballot measure today that would define fertilized human eggs as distinct human beings with all the pertinent legal rights of people. Passage of Amendment 26, however, would be a mistake, one with wide-ranging and negative consequences.

If it passes, the amendment would turn women's reproductive rights under the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling upside down, treat abortion as murder, make the "morning after" pill and some other forms of contraception illegal, and ignite another momentous Supreme Court battle over women's right to choose.

Passage of the "personhood" amendment, the most extreme proposal in the anti-abortion movement's right-wing arsenal, would have other significant consequences, as well.

Though its advocates suggest otherwise, it would threaten the practice of fertility treatments and in-vitro fertilization, which commonly destroys or freezes fertilized eggs, and endanger the use of contraception to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. It would set boundaries for care, and thereby threaten, medical care of pregnant women, and medical research involving embryos.

The extreme amendment, moreover, would ban abortion in Mississippi even in cases of rape and incest, on the belief of some evangelicals that God, not rapists, makes babies. It also would make pregnant women subject to more criminal violations involving their care of fertilized eggs and embryos and the potential damage of adverse or unhealthy lifestyles.

Among its other unintended consequences, it could also alter legal views on a range of existing laws involving persons, including those over the distribution of assets under wills to surviving heirs, the use of Census data for a range of federal programs, and the population basis for voting districts.

No other state has passed an amendment defining the personhood of fertilized eggs. Two attempts at similar amendments in Colorado, in 2008 and 2010, drew less than 10 percent of voters in favor of personhood status for fertilized eggs. But according to polls in Mississippi, a majority of likely voters say they intend to approve Amendment 26. In fact, popular sentiment for adoption has been so strong that both the Republican and the Democratic candidates for governor say they plan to vote in favor of the amendment.

If advocates succeed in passing the measure, their success could fuel introduction of copy-cat amendments in other states, re-igniting a broader cultural conflict that had seemed to settle on incremental steps at the margin of abortions by both opponents and advocates of women's reproductive rights.

The anti-abortion movement in recent years has focused on restrictions on abortion -- i.e., mandatory wait times, parental notification, funding for public services for women -- rather than repeal. Women's advocates, by contrast, have worked for improved family planning, education, contraceptive and pre-natal care to promote healthier, more aware, young women and mothers.

The timebomb that is Amendment 26 could radically alter the landscape on abortion in another unintended way. It could backfire on anti-abortion extremists by forcing an ideological battle onto the Supreme Court. Having already been decided, that should compel the court to declare the amendment unconstitutional and to restrict subsequent hindrances to the abortion rights it has previously confirmed. If Amendment 26 is approved, this is what should happen in its wake.

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nucanuck said...

The next question is every egg entitled to a sperm.

November 8, 2011 at 12:52 a.m.
conservative said...

Someone needs to inform this writer that he began as a fertilized egg!

November 8, 2011 at 6:49 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

This makes all the women who use IUDs and birth control pills criminals, and the doctors who prescribe them accessories to murder. Birth control will have to be limited to barrier devices only. Probably can prosecute a woman who unknowingly causes an early miscarriage by training for a marathon when unaware she is pregnant. Stupid move. Of course, Mississippi has time to spend on such a ridiculous campaign, having solved their unemployment problems, environmental and education, right?

November 8, 2011 at 7:43 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Gee what does that make viagra?

What amazes me is that the people who are cheering this on are going against what the bible outlines as the beginning of life, "breath". They make a mockery of what the bible says about a fetus. And these very people are using the bible to support their agenda. How can they do that? Because many christians just listen to their preacher and never read the book.

They scream about shariah law, then impose it upon us. Stupid people. These law-makers want the state to go bankrupt. And it will if the people vote this in. The legal teams are ready on both sides. Then the dominionists can come in and put what they want into place. And the stupid people will cheer them on. So what do the dominionists think of John 18:36? Obviously nothing.

This will only be the start. The Republican party has been taken over by dominionists and it will be their history.

November 8, 2011 at 9:08 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

This law will make all women criminals. They failed to realize that many fertilized eggs do not implant themselves in the uterus. So during the ovulation process, will the "shariah police" will be watching my panties? What country does this remind you of? The same country that is the leading stock holder of Faux. Brainwash and take them over. Hey it is working on the stupid people. This is exactly the result they wanted from being able to put foreign money into our elections.

November 8, 2011 at 9:16 a.m.
Walden said...

The writer wrote, "It also would make pregnant women subject to...the potential damage of adverse or unhealthy lifestyles."

Umm, you mean it would make women take personal responsibility for their lifestyle choices?

November 8, 2011 at 10:25 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Walden, are you saying that I must suffer a penalty for choosing an IUD? That was my "lifestyle" choice.

November 8, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.
Walden said...

Not at all Ikeithlu. I just thought the writer's sentence was particularly revealing as to what the Left really wants to use abortion for.

November 8, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

Not everyone who seeks an abortion is an irresponsible, promiscuous criminal. Just like everyone on welfare is not a lazy, drug-dependent, loafer. You would eliminate a choice for everyone because some abuse it?

Not to mention that the last people we want bringing children into the world are those least able to properly raise them, especially if they don't want them. And don't get me started on adoption; our state alone has hundreds of kids in foster care that are not being adopted.

November 8, 2011 at 11:49 a.m.
acerigger said...

Those who defend the amendment say they have science on their side. "The unborn child in the womb is scientifically proven to be a human being,” says Jennifer Mason, communications director for Personhood USA, the Arvada, Col.-based national advocacy group pushing for passage of Initiative 26. But Mason has no idea what she is talking about.

It is true that for centuries science has shown that all human beings begin as fertilized eggs. But it is not true that all fertilized eggs can or do produce human beings. In fact, it is so utterly wrong to say that every fertilized egg is a person, that to even suggest that science provides support for enacting the initiative is utterly absurd.

What are the odds of a fertilized egg becoming a person?

This is what we know: During the period of embryonic development that begins with fertilization and ends with successful implantation, about 50 percent of human conceptions fail to survive. The main reason for this high failure rate is the inability of huge numbers of fertilized eggs to implant.

What science has found is that around half of all conceptions don't make it to implantation. Calling a fertilized egg a person flies in the face of this cruel biological reality. Half of all fertilized eggs cannot even become an embryo, much less a person./Art Caplan,Ph.D

November 8, 2011 at 11:57 a.m.
acerigger said...

"Indeed, given the grim odds that face fertilized eggs, no one in science or medicine refers to a fertilized egg as an embryo unless it manages to implant. By talking about embryos and fertilized eggs as equivalent, supporters of Initiative 26 are not even using the correct scientific definition of an embryo. Sadly, all too many couples know about the high rate of spontaneous abortion and stillbirth that haunts embryonic and fetal development. Roughly, one in six embryos will spontaneously abort or produce fetuses that do not develop properly and die in utero.

There are a huge number of embryos that are not properly genetically programmed for life. Nearly all of these completely lack the biological ability to develop into anything resembling a viable baby. Legislation -- like that about to be voted on in Mississippi -- that declares fertilized eggs to be persons from the moment of conception simply ignores that the failure rate of human embryos is very high. A considerable number of embryos and fetuses never have any chance of producing a baby.

Medicine and science know very well what many millions of heart-broken would be parents around the world know first-hand: To call all embryos “persons” flies in the face of spontaneous abortion, stillbirth and fetal death.

In the push to declare fertilized eggs “persons” advocates claim science is on their side. But it is only by ignoring what science has learned about the long odds that face fertilized eggs that anyone could even suggest that a fertilized egg is a person./Art Caplan,Ph.D

November 8, 2011 at noon
Rickaroo said...

If I were a woman I'd be spittin' mad at these narrow minded self-righteous Christian bigots who want to give the governmment complete control over my body. They want smaller government - or no government at all - in every other aspect of life that affects them personally, but they want to create a veritable gestapo when it comes to a pregnant woman. I'm amazed at the number of women who actually go along with these Christian cretins. Of course, they are as brainwashed as their menfolk, no doubt.

It's crazy enough to think that an embryo, still nothing more than a POTENTIAL person, should be considered a full person whose rights totally usurp that of the woman who is carrying it. But now they want to take it to the extreme of granting full personhood to a zygote, a mere microscopic speck?? That would be knee-slapping funny if it weren't so insanely pathetic.

Well, all I can say is, you little zygotes, embryos, fetuses, etc., you'd best enjoy the love and compassion you're getting from these folks while you can get it. You sure as hell won't get it once your little tushies come out of the womb. Then you'll become a despicable little heathen in their eyes, not worth the time of day...unless you're one of THEM.

November 8, 2011 at 12:45 p.m.
LibDem said...

If eggs be people, won't this raise the average IQ in Mississippi?

November 8, 2011 at 2:29 p.m.
dao1980 said...

Ha! Awesom LibDem.

November 8, 2011 at 2:34 p.m.
Walden said...

dao1980 - you know what is awesome? The fact that you can't spell awesome.

November 8, 2011 at 4:03 p.m.
mtngrl said...

I would like to know how they plan to enforce this if it is passed. As stated in many good posts above there is a big difference in "fertilized egg" and implantation in the womb. Implantation is what medically defines pregnancy. That is the point when the female body knows something has happened and the hormones start to change. As far as I know there is no way to even test for fertilization before that point.

November 8, 2011 at 4:27 p.m.
dao1980 said...

Double awesom, heck how about triple awesom!

Haha, watch out Walden, you've set the bar, and I'll be looking for your typo's ;)

November 8, 2011 at 4:33 p.m.
Momus said...

Can you get life insurance on an egg? So every month, cha-ching.

November 8, 2011 at 10:45 p.m.
LibDem said...

I'm afraid I owe the people of Mississippi an apology for my disparaging and obviously incorrect remark.

November 10, 2011 at 1:02 p.m.
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