There has been much heat generated by the debate over the state of Mississippi’s proposed ballot Initiative 26-the Personhood Amendment. This ballot initiative would amend Mississippi’s constitution “to define the word ‘person’ or ‘persons’, as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”
The ballot initiative’s opponents raised all manner of objections of the “what if” or “does this mean” variety such as, “What if a mother has an ectopic pregnancy, would the doctor be charged with homicide for aborting such a life-threatening pregnancy?” Or, “Does this mean that a doctor who performs radiation therapy on a cancer patient could be charged with criminal conduct for killing the embryo through such treatment?” According to the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, the answer is no. They note such incidences are already covered by current Mississippi criminal statutes.
However, such questions completely miss the point of this ballot initiative. These questions and objections focus on the details and the individual incidences when embryos may be destroyed. The ballot initiative focuses on the basic moral principle that embryos are unique, never to be duplicated human beings from the moment of fertilization onward and that civilized societies do not allow them to be dismembered and destroyed at will.
Several years ago CBS aired a special program, The Body Human, where they apparently forgot to be politically correct and stated the scientific truth, “The sperm enters the egg and life begins.” The ballot initiative puts forth the basic proposition that the protections of the law should be extended to Mississippi’s pre-born citizens. I am in 100 percent agreement with this proposition. Once that bedrock moral principle has been established, then you address the details of individual situations according to existing moral law. When necessary, you write new laws to interpret the new constitutional principles that Mississippians have asserted in passing this ballot initiative.
I do not know anyone who is arguing for charges of homicide or murder to be filed against doctors who perform abortions or who destroy embryos in the process of performing in vitro fertilization. I would certainly oppose such a perspective. You would need overwhelming societal consensus that abortion is murder before you would consider passing such laws. Taking another person’s life can lead to charges of homicide or negligent homicide, voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, death by misadventure, etc., precisely because the charges depend on both the societal moral consensus and the details of each case.
The primary goal and intent of the ballot initiative is to save unborn babies’ lives from the wholesale slaughter they are currently being subjected to in Mississippi, by extending to them the protections of the law. The impetus behind this initiative has never been to punish abortion providers or mothers, but to stop the wholesale killing of babies. I, for one, look upon a mother of an aborted child as a second victim and would strenuously oppose any attempts to charge mothers with any crime. Down the road, under new potential laws, in the case of abortion providers I would probably start with a substantial fine and a loss of any medical license they may hold, with the fine escalating significantly for recurring offenses and at some point permanent forfeiture of licensure, and only as a last resort incarceration.
Richard Land | Nov 8, 2011 3:42 PM