Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Personhood still has a long way to go

Mississippi voters rejected Amendment 26 yesterday. The language of the amendment was this:
Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hereby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.
It would be interesting to read some in-depth analysis about yesterday's outcome, but I'm honestly not surprised. At a gut level, I just don't think people are willing to reject the status quo. I know it's easy to just explain that people are worried about all the exceptions--birth control, rape, etc.--but I think the issue is more fundamental than that. Even for conservative Christians with traditional values, abortion is not just something weird that those "other" people do. It's something everyone does, and if it's really as bad as pro-lifers say it is (does it really kill a person?) then that's quite an indictment of our entire society. I'm surprised, therefore, that it even got 40% of Mississippi's vote. That means there are a lot of truly pro-life people down there. But let's not kid ourselves into thinking that the pro-life movement will achieve victory through a triumph of traditional values. The pro-life movement is, and always has been, a radical movement.


  1. Would be interesting to think through this argument, had the Amendment passed.
    Wouldn't it then become a moral imperative to medically fight natural embryo loss in Mississippi?

  2. Interesting and provocative piece. I will finish reading it later, but I think it ultimately relies on a non sequitur, which you can see right from the beginning. The opening allegory of the "Scourge" would seem to imply that anything that destructive of human life would morally necessitate putting all of our resources into combating it. I don't agree. Our morals are generally framed in the negative: don't kill, don't steal, don't lie. To make a moral claim that we ought to focus all of our energies on one particular task is, in the long run, a bad idea.

    Perhaps I'll write a full response to the paper when I finish reading it.


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