Monday, November 7, 2011

How Important Are You?

If you saw a fertilized egg in a petri dish, would you truly believe it has exactly the same importance as you do? If a fire broke out in the lab and only you or the test tube could be saved, would you honestly think the firefighters should draw straws to decide who to rescue, both you and the zygote being of equal value and all?

Or let's put this another way - the choice is between saving your 3-year-old or a fertilized egg. If you tell me that you had to think about it for even one millisecond, I'd say you are mentally unbalanced.

Put into the most basic terms, that's the debate that will be settled in Mississippi on Tuesday when the "Personhood" amendment comes up for a vote. It appears now as though this legislation will pass. The Mississippi Constitution will then define persons as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

What this does is essentially relegate women to the diminished status of baby-bearing factories. Not only will the fertilized egg be as important as it's mother, it will be more important. It's rights will supercede hers.

Abortion will be illegal under any circumstances whatsoever -  whether the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, no matter how young the mother may be, even if her own life is endangered. It will outlaw most forms of birth control. It will put severe limits on in vitro fertilization by banning the practice of harvesting many eggs to ensure pregnancy takes place. It will make criminals of women and doctors for performing or undergoing commonplace health-saving procedures.

In other words, if Mississippians pass the Personhood Amendment, they have made a hard-eyed comparison and determined that tiny blobs of tissue outweigh living, breathing human beings on the scale of life.

Except I don't think many of the voters who will vote "yes" on Amendment 26 did make a hard-eyed comparison. They are voting off the tops of their heads without considering the tragic ramifications their vote will cause in the lives of real people.

The sad 13-year-old pregnant due to incest. The terrified woman carrying the by-product of a vicious rape. The ill mother whose fetus threatens her own health....and by extension, the well-being of her other children.

And you have to wonder about some of the other unintended consequences of this amendment.

Will pregnant women and test-tube zygotes now have to be considered in the Mississippi census? Will freeze-dried eggs count as exemptions on their parents' taxes? Can a woman who miscarries be called before a tribunal to determine whether her actions contributed to her miscarriage? And who is going to police all of this? Is Mississippi going to form a Pregnancy Patrol to pry into the personal lives of families?

If these laws pass (six other states have considered, or are considering similar legislation), we will become as repressive as China, only in the opposite direction. The Chinese government plays Big Brother to its families to force them to have fewer children; the U.S. will be Big Brother to force them to have more.