By Eye on Modesto Staff
The voters of Mississippi have just voted down Proposition 26. Proposition 26 declared “personhood” at the moment of fertilization. The implications of this were far-reaching.
Fertilization is when the sperm joins the egg. Conception is considered to be the moment the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus. This might not happen for up to a week after the egg is fertilized. The concept of declaring personhood from the moment of fertilization would render IUD’s and most birth control pills illegal, as neither method prevents fertilization, but rather prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus.
Conceivably, a doctor who prescribes birth control pills or a woman who takes them could be charged with a crime. Another aspect of Proposition 26 is the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, which happen when the fertilized egg starts to develop in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus. Such pregnancies must be aborted or the fallopian tube will rupture and may cause the death of the mother. Prop 26 would prevent doctors from performing abortions on these women, condemning a number of them to death. Prop 26 also banned abortions in the case of incest, rape or even to save the life of the mother. Some women develop medical conditions during pregnancy (extremely high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes) that may result in their death if the fetus is not aborted, but this law would tell those women that they must die.
Doctors would not want to provide in vitro services as they could be charged with murder if they disposed of unused fertilized eggs, even though medicine defines pregnancy as the implantation of a fertilized egg, not the fertilization of the egg. If Prop 26 passed, those fertilized eggs in a petri dish would be considered “people”. A woman who suffered a miscarriage may have had to prove to law enforcement officials that she had done nothing to bring on the miscarriage. This could certainly discourage women from receiving medical treatment at the first sign of a miscarriage. Some people have concerns that a woman could be charged with a crime if she engages in activities where she might be injured and that injury could result in a miscarriage. This could conceivably happen even if it was early in the pregnancy and the woman wasn’t aware that she was pregnant.
Some of the supporters of Prop 26 are Personhood Mississippi, Catholic Social and Community Services, Personhood USA, The American Life League and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations. They are basing their support on their religious beliefs. While they are certainly free to adhere to their religious beliefs, what they have attempted to do is to force every woman of child-bearing age inMississippito adhere to religious beliefs that they may not agree with. Even some groups that are very pro-life have taken a step back from this proposition due to the extreme and possibly unforeseen consequences that would come about if it were to pass.
Mississippi has only one abortion provider in the entire state, and already forces a woman to wait 24 hours after a doctor’s appointment and mandatory “counseling” before they can have an abortion, which causes increased financial hardship on low-income women. They not only have to travel a good distance, they need a night in a hotel to meet the 24 hour waiting requirement. Mississippiis a very poor state, and has a poor record of helping its low-income families. Proposition 26 would just make those low-income families even poorer, by removing most forms of birth control and subjecting those women to multiple pregnancies.
PersonhoodUSA is attempting to put similar initiatives on 2012 ballots inFlorida, Montana, Ohioand Oregon. Voters in Colorado rejected similar proposals in 2008 and 2010.
Be reminded, this is not just an abortion issues although the first goal of these groups is to ban all abortions. Their long-term goal is to ban all forms of birth control. If these propositions pass in other states, it will be a step backward of 100 years for women’s rights.
Abortion should always be Safe, Legal and Rare.