Personhood Ballot Measure Rejected in Mississippi

Hallelujah

Via Joe. My. God. who adds:

This is a HUGE loss for the Family Research Council, which lobbied fiercely to essentially outlaw abortion in Mississippi. The bill, as written, would have also outlawed some methods of birth control.


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

    I voted no

  • Lula N Cache

    So glad this measure was rejected!

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

    The fertilized egg vote never materialized.

  • http://twitter.com/gingerjet gingerjet

    why quote “joe.my.god”?  He is not a reporter and heavily biased.  And I’m speaking as someone who is gay.  Only Towleroad is worse.

    • Drew M.

      Meh, it’s still a decent quote.

      (I think I dislike his blog even more than you do. The SNR of his site is damned near zero)

  • Nathaniel

    For whatever reason, personhood amendments seems to be the bright line that shan’t be crossed, at least for now. Such an amendment went down to defeat twice in Colorado.

    • Anonymous

      I think it might be because many people who are pro-life live under the delusion that only whores end up pregnant and want an abortion, and that would NEVER happen to them or people they know (Utterly false of course. google “The only moral abortion is my abortion”).
      But personhood ammendments criminalize most forms of hormonal birth control. A huge proportion of women in the US use birth control, and this almost certainly includes most pro-life women and the girlfriends/wives of most pro-life men. Suddently it’s not stopping some Other from rights over their bodies, it’s personal to them. So much simpler to demonize and rule over the bodies of other women you are convinced are nothing like you. Faced with having YOUR rights taken away and YOUR ability to decide on when to have children removed you suddenly feel violated. Hey, that’s not for anyone to decide but me and my doctor! They suddendly realize that they’re pro-choice about the things they want to choose.

      • Demonhype

        I focused on that same attitude in my English 102 class, in a paper about “The Lottery”.  I observed that Mrs. Robinson, like many who had fallen before her, was totally okay when she thought she was going to see someone else “othered” and murdered that day.  Everything changed when her family was chosen and suddenly it wasn’t fair anymore.  It’s a vile attitude that extends even beyond anti-choice attitudes.  It’s all fun and games until YOU lose an eye–but someone else losing an eye is all in good fun.

      • TheBlackCat

        It is pretty telling that the rate of abortion amongst pro-choice and pro-life women is approximately the same.  When pro-life women at an abortion provider ask why they are doing it, they say that it is okay they have a good reason, unlike all those other women who are just doing it for convenience.

  • B_l_z_bob

    This would have had much more impact that outlawing birth control. The can of worms that it would have opened would have turned millions of women into criminals overnight.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, making every miscarriage into a murder investigation?  So glad this didn’t pass.

  • Anonymous

    Guess all those fertilized eggs didn’t make it to the voting booth today.

    • Demonhype

      I’m surprised they don’t try something like that, where they extend the right to vote to all not-yet-delivered pregnancies, in that they decide for the zygote that it is in favor of outlawing abortion and then add the total number of pregnancies  to their total votes–likely guaranteeing victory, especially since the embryos of pro-choicers would be “voting” against their mothers.

      You might say “but children don’t have a right to vote until eighteen, so how could they do that?”  Well, these people are willing to not only give these blobs of cells more “rights” than actual people and they are willing to let those blobs of cells starve or die of diseases the moment they are born, plus they are willing to dictate to others what they want or what they think (it’s the basis of their platform!), so what’s to stop them from trying to pull something like that?

      • Anonymous

        While the voting may have some resistance with even the hard core fundies, the one legal challenge to determine a “person” is assigning one of these fertilized eggs a Social Security Number.  Each child born gets one, why not a zygote?  It would make things easier in court for a lawyer to represent the “person”, calling it by it’s assigned SSN.

        Gives it more of the government feel to it.

  • Tiffany

    I was hoping you would cover this :) I’ve been fighting this since the day it was brought up. Voted a big hell no today at the polls. I’m amazed that it was struck down.  I have regained faith (for lack of a better word) in this state. If only a little.

  • Anonymous

    In  Mississippi no less. Colour me surprised.

  • Windsngr

    I cannot even express how stoked I am about this. I recently moved away from MS, and am frankly a little astounded that 26 didn’t pass. I think the realization that it would affect IVF and outlaw IUD’s was a huge motivator in getting people to oppose this initiative. If only 27 had gone down in flames, as well… Racism is still alive and well in the South.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LKTF6H5YXBEGHEFMRSOESS3KWU Advent Gred

      I can’t seem to find anything about this 27.  Could you inform me please about what it is, maybe where I can read about it?

    • Nude0007

      huh? how is requiring voter id racist? 

      Racism is alive and well in the north too, but it is a very small percentage in the south, I hope that can be said of the north. Last I heard, native americans, hispanics (or whatever they are called these days), asians, MUSLIMS , and who knows what else are still having problems up there just as much as down here in MS.

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        The rationale for that is that reqiring a voter ID bars people who cannot or do not have picture ID from voting. Those people are more likely than not poor people, of which minorities are a huge part. The bill itself is not borne or racism, but it’s easy to see why many people feel that way.

        Suffice it to say, it’s something that should not be required, as many people cannot afford picture IDs, nor can they afford cars and (as a result) do not need picture IDs. It prevents a large chunk of the population from being able to vote, which is one of our most basic rights and should not be threatened in any way by bills such as these.

        • Demonhype

          Thank you–you beat me to it.  If you support those voter ID laws, then you likely would have supported those laws in the past where you had to pass a literacy test in order to vote.  Whenever someone wants to put a condition on the right to vote, the first thing that needs to be looked into–honestly and not half-assedly–is “will this have an effect of preventing disenfranchised groups from voting?”.  If the answer is even a tiny possibility of “yes”, it should be voted down.

          I love how the concern is that the poor or the black are the ones  we need to worry about with voter fraud when it has been demonstrated time and time again that it is the rich and conservative who have been committing the voter fraud.  And getting away with it.  To me, these laws are nothing more than a form of voter fraud and fixing elections–if you erase the votes of the “undesirables” (ie: people who vote Democrat/liberal), you might be found out (however unlikely it is that you will, or that you will be punished for it in any way), but if you can point to them as the “other” and convince the average idiot of the need to protect against these people,  you can get the average idiot to achieve the same goal by voting their rights away–and it’s totally legal!  Hooray!

        • Nude0007

          all the agencies involved have stated they are willing to go the extra mile to help anyone not having sufficient proof of identity to have several options to get the ID.  From help to getting a valid birth certificate, to accepting more unconventional proof identity.   If I thought for one minute that it would be used to exclude any citizen from voting, I would agree, but with all the ways I heard that  will be offered to establish identity to get the ID, I really can’t see that happening unless the person is either not a citizen, or can’t prove who they are for some illegal reaason.

  • Garren openID

    I found it annoying how a lot of the new stories talked about this being about “when life begins.” It’s not really a significant controversy that, biologically, a new human life begins at conception or thereabouts. The question is whether we count this life as a “person” right away.

    This is not a scientific question or any other question of objective fact, beyond how we choose to value and legally treat this class of human life. I would advise pro-choice advocates not to deny that “life begins at conception” because this lets pro-life advocates continue to think they have contemporary scientific fact on their side. No one does.

    • Eskomo

      Is it “Life begins?” Or rather “Life continues.”

      • Garren openID

        Life with a capital ‘L’ continues, but a new human life begins.

        Like I said, if pro-choicers don’t grant this, they give the pro-life movement an opportunity to make persuasive biological arguments. Better to bite the bullet now than make such a long-term strategic mistake.

        • ACN

          Nonsense.

          You’re relying on the
          colloquial meaning of ‘human’ (the things that separate us from other
          animals), and then equating it with having the right number of human
          genes. In for a penny, in for a pound as it were. Science just doesn’t
          say this at all. It can sequence the gamete’s genes and compare with
          human genes, we can test its proteins and analyze its species, but there
          is no unambiguous test for this wide meaning of ‘humanity’. We typically
          use the word “human” to denote more than just what type of meat something is.

          The fertilized cell cannot love, laugh or experience joy. Nor can it
          experience pain, discomfort, or anger. It has no plans for the future.
          It has no thoughts. It has insufficient neural power for any of these
          things. Throughout a healthy pregnancy, many fetuses eventually acquire
          this neural power, but the exact moment is imprecise.

          Claiming that a new human life begins at conception is a disingenuous use of both “human” and “life”.

          • Garren openID

            I’m using “human” to refer to our species. You can load it up with more meanings, just as we could define “dog” as a particular species + the quality of loyalty. But this just makes clear communication harder. 

            • ACN

              I’m not loading the words with any meaning, the word is already loaded with those meanings. 

              The fact of the matter is that the only ‘human’ thing about the fertilized egg is that it has the correct number of human genes. The same as a rectal polyp or a flake of skin.

              • Garren openID

                As I understand the science, an embryo is considered a distinct organism. Unlike, e.g. a flake of skin or a sperm cell.

                http://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2
                (Disclaimer: I haven’t gone through these quotes to confirm they are accurate and representative.)

                Does your presumably pro-choice position rely on embryos not being distinct human organisms? If so, you are likely vulnerable to such scientific attacks. If not, you may want to emphasize other arguments so you don’t seem vulnerable to such attacks.

                I accept that embryos are distinct human organisms and oppose treating them with any kind of human rights.  This position completely disarms science-based arguments about the beginning of human life.

                • TheBlackCat

                  A sperm cell is a distinct organism.  It has different DNA than the parent, and acts more independently of the parent than an embryo does.  The same is true for cancer cells, they have different genetics and different DNA than their host (and can, on occasion, even jump between hosts or survive in the outside environment).

    • Anonymous

      I like Garren open ID. His posts have been right on the money so far.

      • Demonhype

        No.  No they haven’t.

        • Anonymous

          Yes. Yes they have. The issue involved in abortion isn’t when life begins. The issue is when personhood begins.

  • deityfree

    Good job Mississippi voters!

  • deityfree

    If life at conception were such a huge deal, wouldn’t we expect to see crosses erected for miscarriages?

    • Piet Puk

      This is a very good question! What happened to all the miscarriages? Did they have proper burials?
      “Very sorry for your loss m’am, now let’s talk about the funeral arrangements. Our most affordable option is the Minicask 26..”

      • http://twitter.com/kariedgerton Kari Edgerton

        A friend of mine did have a burial for the baby she lost at 7 months. Several women do.

        • Kevin Sagui

          It tends to be more common in late stages of pregnancy, at which point many people, even some pro-choicers, consider the fetus to be closer to a human than a clump of cells. It’s around then (thirty weeks, I think) that the average fetus is “independently viable” – i.e. could survive if born prematurely.

          • Demonhype

            However, the vast majority (if not all)  non-medically necessary abortions (ie: the woman isn’t dying, the baby isn’t malformed, etc..you know, extreme issues) happen early term even in places where there is open freedom of abortion.  In those places, you don’t have some huge increase of “frivolous” late-term abortions.  Women aren’t just stupid whores who screw and then try to “weasel out” of their predicament by committing “murder” at the last minute.  Women are capable of making decisions about their individual pregnancies, which is one thing the anti-choicers fail to realize–or refuse to accept.

            This attitude is present even in situations of a wanted pregnancy, such as when a co-worker of mine became absolutely incensed at my suggestion that a woman should have some say over her prenatal care, in that she should be well-informed of what you want to do, what the risks are, what the options are, and have ultimate veto power.  No, women are all stupid whores who can’t be trusted even when they want the pregnancy and want the best, and should just strip naked, close their eyes, and lie still on the gurney and never question what anyone is doing to her.  Never.  Ever.  She gave up all her so-called “human rights” when she got pregnant–or even when she had sex in the first place–and now needs to accept her status as “meat incubator” and behave accordingly.  The doctor and the insurance company will take things from here, so she doesn’t need to worry her stupid pregnant head about anything.

            This attitude scared me even more than the anti-choice BS I keep hearing, because how can you reason with these people about abortion rights when so many seem to think that all pregnant women are stupid whores unable to make viable decisions about their health and that every single embryo or fetus needs to be “protected” even from a willing mother who wants the best for it?  That only a doctor and the insurance company know what’s best for it?

            Though once it’s out and it’s an actual baby, suddenly “parents rights” comes into play and you can beat it with a rubber hose if you like, or deny it a good education or anything else you think is best for Li’l Junior, because we all know parents know what’s best for their children and it would be totally out-of-line to get in their way–unless that parent is a pregnant woman.

            • Kevin Sagui

              … What provoked that?  My only point was that if there’s a funeral for a miscarried fetus, it’s far more likely to be later in the pregnancy, when the fetus is much closer to being a person.

            • Anonymous

              Since most abortions happen in the early pregnancy, then restrictions on the late term abortions shouldn’t bother you as much. I agree that we should allow a certain amount of options for the pregnant woman about how she wants to care for her pregnancy, but when it comes to late term pregnancies where the baby becomes conscious, we do need some restrictions to make sure that the child is kept alive long enough to be born.

        • Gabriel

          What would you think if a friend had a burial for a person who had a burial for a miscarriage after one day?

          • Anonymous

            After one day of pregnancy?  There’s really no way to know you are pregnant one day after conception.  The age of an embryo starts at the day of your last menstrual period, not the date of conception.  most women can’t know they are pregnant until they are at least 2-3 weeks after conception.

            • Anonymous

              Most miscarriages actually happen without people ever knowing. Over 20% of all pregnancies are spontaneously miscarried within the first few weeks. Some studies report numbers as high as 50%

              • Anonymous

                Agreed.

              • Reasongal

                Here’s another pauser – if personhood begins at conception, does the soul enter at that point?  Are souls just going in and out via natural abortion and getting in line for every conception?  Does every egg have a soul in line for it?

        • Anonymous

          Having a funeral no matter what stage the pregnancy is certainly understandable.  The feeling of loss is enormous.  I miscarried at 8 weeks, did not have a funeral though I grieved the loss  intensely.  I felt like I was grieving for something I never really had in the first place but still feel an intense pang of loss now even though it’s been over a year. 

          A close family member gave birth to and lost a baby at 26 weeks (HELLP syndrome) and had a funeral.  At that point the baby had a gender, a name, and was only a week or 2 at most from having a much better chance being viable outside the womb (though most likely would have had developmental
          delays.)

          It’s so horrifying to think women could have been investigated and prosecuted for the loss of a pregnancy if this personhood prop had passed.  I don’t think I could have handled such an investigation on top of my intense pain. I already felt such guilt and pain, that I was at least a little unstable.

        • Piet Puk

          I completely understand the desire to do so.
          What I was wondering about is this is what the anti-choosers feel should happen to any miscarriage.

    • Anonymous

      Also, it seems to me that since “God creates life” only good Christian
      couples should be able to reproduce. Why would god create life in a
      cracked out prostitute? That’s just all kinds of wrong. 

      • Demonhype

        Good point!  Also, what kind of God allows someone to have a baby who will not be raised a “Good Christian ™”?  Isn’t that evidence of predestination–and therefore a good excuse to stop freaking proselytizing the rest of us?  :)

  • Anonymous

    I was pleased to see the recent change of attitude by Mississippi conservatives on this one. I don’t know what made Barbour completely flip on this one at the last minute, but that had an impact. I was pretty proud of my fellow Mississippians today. That good spirit is dampened, however, when I think about what changed their minds – the fear that it would outlaw IVF. Oh hell no, don’t get in our way of plunking out more knuckle-dragging, cross-eyed hillbillies. Nevermind that a fertilized egg isn’t a person. Somehow it’s fiiiiine with them to destroy those eggs to make more babies, but if you’re destroying just one in order to terminate a pregnancy it’s all of a sudden murder.

    It’s misogyny at work on a population that is highly sedated by fast food and heavy propaganda. Though I’m pleased at the result, I don’t have any illusions about an evolution of ideas occurring in Mississippi.

    • Garren openID

      It’s not generally misogyny that motivates pro-lifers any more that it’s generally a desire for more abortions that motivates pro-choicers. 

      If I value A so strongly that I accept losses in B, it doesn’t follow that I disvalue B. A pro-lifer who values early-stage human life so strongly that she accepts losses in the area of reproductive choice doesn’t necessarily disvalue reproductive choice in itself. A pro-choicer who values reproductive choice so strongly that she accepts losses in terms of early-stage human life doesn’t necessarily disvalue early-stage human life in itself.

      • Anonymous

        Even though I’m glad the personhood amendment failed, I’m also glad that Garren openID keeps our own side from exaggerating.

      • TheBlackCat

        Except they also fight against birth control, reproductive counciling, and pretty much every other aspect of reproductive choice imaginable.

        • Garren openID

          Some do, particularly Catholics. I pointed out to one such person that developing and promoting better contraceptives — for women and men — would be a highly effective way of reducing the number of abortions, and was told, “Sin is sin.” *sigh*

          But I also know a number of pro-lifers who have little to no problem with contraceptives and really are just interested in treating fetal human life with some level of human rights (there’s a large space of possibilities between no rights and adult rights). 

          If anyone is curious about my own position: http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/2011/04/defining-personhood.html

          TLDR version: I consider the big dividing line to be the beginning of conscious experience. (Legally, I am against any rights at all before that, and some lesser-than-adult rights after first gaining inner awareness.)

          • TheBlackCat

            The people behind this bill, the FRC, do oppose all those things.

        • Kevin Sagui

          As Garren stated, “they” is not all.  For a long time, even after I had left Catholicism behind, I was still a pro-lifer.  It had nothing to do with hating women, I simply thought that there was life beginning at conception and that we had a duty to protect it.  It was all the other positions (the callousness towards women, the opposition to contraception, the unwillingness to make exceptions for rape, incest, health of the mother, the end runs on Roe v. Wade that were especially cruel to the mothers) that made me stop and wonder how I could be on the same side of the issue as people with such abominable stances.

          • kaileyverse

            Some people who are “pro-life” are not misogynists. Many of them are.

            Many people who are “pro-life” aren’t really pro-life either, because they think it acceptable to blow up children on the other side of the world without batting an eyelash. They eat meat. They are pro-death penalty, which is state sanctioned murder.

            Many pro-lifers are inconsiderate douche-bags.

            I work in a gynecology office that also provides abortion services – we just finished the 40 days campaign where we had protestors “praying” outside our office and “counseling” women away from abortion.

            Certainly I don’t care whether a woman carries a pregnancy to term or not – I want her to make the best decision for her – and I will help her access whatever resources and supports she needs to help her live her best life.

            The assholes outside my office? They yell at women, women who may already be parents and tell them they are murdering their child. I have had many patients (even those coming to our office for a free pregnancy test or to get birth control, or even a pap smear) be pushed to tears by the insensitivity and malice shown by these inconsiderate people.

            Anti-choice laws, such as amendment 26 are absolutely misogynist. They target the half of the population that has the capacity to become pregnant.  There are no equal punishments for men.  Women have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to be pregnant – even if that means using birth control, practicing abstinence, or having an abortion.  If women do decide to carry a pregnancy to term – I believe they should have access to resources to help them have a healthy pregnancy, as well as raise children in a safe, supportive atmosphere.   many “pro-lifers” don’t really give two shits about a child after it is born.

            Crisis Pregnancy centers and (some) Christian adoption centers actively coerce women into adoption – telling women their “baby” is a “gift from god” and they shouldn’t murder it – then, once they are almost to term – they tell them they are sinners who are incapable of raising children and that their child would be better raised by this nice christian family. This is an industry that coercively separates willing biological parents
            from their offspring, artificially producing “orphans” for Christian
            parents to adopt, rather than helping birth parents care for wanted
            children.

            So yes – In general, I think “pro-life” people are dicks, and yeah, a buttload of them are misogynists.

    • Demonhype

      Exactly that.  What it is in their mind that validates “murder” when it happens in IVF (to a lot more “people” per prengancy as well, if I understand the IVF process correctly) but condemns it when it is an abortion is beyond me.  Okay, so it’s only murder when it’s not furthering your own  goals?  I guess it’s the same kind of mentality that validates real-world murder when it’s done for the “right” reasons, such as godly genocide or gays or the death penalty or that sort of thing.   Or perhaps “The Only Moral Abortion is My Abortion” mentality, where it’s only okay if I do it but all other women are whores in need of punishment.

      If a woman getting an abortion is a murderer, then you are equally a murderer by doing IVF.  For my own part, I don’t think either one is murder.

       (Though I’m not totally “cool’ with IVF given overpopulation plus lots of abandoned kids needing homes, but I’m not going to outlaw it or bust you over the head with judgment either.  Regardless, it’s still no more murder than abortion is, and I’m nothing if not consistent.)

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised.  I’m glad there are limits to the FRC’s influence.  I wouldn’t count on them stopping there, there’s probably a lot of money in pushing these things.  Hopefully they come back with equally poorly written measures rather than tone it down slightly in the hopes of getting a slim majority to get what they can get.  Even that is really a waste of time unless there are five sitting pro-life Supreme Court Justices, as it’ll get overturned.

    • Anonymous

      The question is: are there? How does Justice Kennedy feel about this?

  • Stogoe

    Garrett, it’s considered bad form to sockpuppet, well, pretty much everywhere on the internet.  So could you please make Hibernia slightly more believable so that not everyone knows she’s a sockpuppet right out of the gate? “Wow, Garrett, what an amazing insight!” is probably not the best repetetive comment to go with if you’re actually trying to bolster your argument.

    • Garren openID

      I’ve never done that.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Garrett does make some good points. There, am I a sock puppet account now too? Go away with your paranoid nonsense.

    • Anonymous

      So you can’t compliment someone without being accused of being that person yourself? If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’d notice that I’ve been posting here since at least August.

      (P.S. You also got my gender wrong)

  • Keljopy

    I’m so relieved that in Mississippi I still have more rights over my own body than a single celled zygote that might accidentally form there.

    • SJH

      Accidentally?

      • ACN

        Condoms break. Pills occasionally don’t prevent ovulation. Parthenogenesis, while exceedingly unlikely and never observed in humans isn’t completely unthinkable. etc, etc.

        The first two are probably more relevant than the latter.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I suspect all the people who run convenience stores figured out that if they sold cigarettes or liquor to a woman who then had a miscarriage, they could be liable.  A lot of prescription and OTC  meds would all but disappear, too.

  • Nude0007

    I was apprehensive about this initiative, but guardedly optimistic.  Voter turnout was heavy, which both pleased me and worried me.  Still, it was not a huge margin, which gives us cause to worry, but a roughly 60-40 split is not too bad for a severely religious state.

    We do have a lot of educated people in this state (we have about 8 colleges, not counting 2 year colleges), and I am glad that even though most have to be xtian, they could see the danger this bill represented.    Most people here are not so seriously religious, but then again, far too many can’t carry on a conversation without inserting a comment about  god or Jesus in it. You never know how deep the religious psychosis is.  
     At any rate, I am now pretty confident that they will not stand for most underhanded attempts at circumventing Roe v. Wade. At least unless they are a lot sneakier.  We must remain vigilant.  Now if they could just see that separation of church and state benefits everyone, even them.

  • Reasongal

    A telling point, and one which the nay-voters wisely did not overlook, was the vagueness of the wording (which its promoters said would not create all of those problems and potential legal and reproductive ramifications) and the obvious motivations of its promoters to use this legislation to control women’s reproduction in any manner possible.  They could not be trusted, and it doesn’t matter how much they whine about Planned Parenthood’s campaign of “misinformation,” the aggressive pattern of conservative reproductive oppression is obvious throughout many states.  Voters were not stupid enough to believe that “none of that stuff would happen, and it would be worked out later.”  Yeah, in the most archaic, oppressive manner possible.


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