Mississippi, a state located in the midst of the Bible Belt, sent a clear message to American women on November 8, 2011, “Women, if there is a baby in your stomach, kill it!” The aftermath of Mississippi voters’ refusal to pass the “Personhood Amendment,” which would give constitutionally protected rights to fertilized eggs, has been horrific:
There have been reports of countless numbers of rotting fetuses in Mississippi dumpsters and landfills. Condoms and other forms of birth control sales have dropped sharply in the past few days since it is so convenient and publicly acceptable for a woman to have an abortion. And also, apparently God relayed a message to Michele Bachmann that “something needs to be done to stop this because there is not much more room left in the baby cemetary in heaven.”
I wish the above statements were outside the logical realm of any debate, but it seems abortion, like many other societal issues, is often thrust to the ultimate extremes of illogicality. Hopefully, this little article can provide some clarity to a complex personal issue that should not receive the amount of political discourse that it does.
The “Personhood” amendment reads as follows:
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.
Basically, this law would ban all abortions with absolutely no consideration for women involved. It would also make women raise children that were the result of rape. And women who have a life-saving abortion while in labor would be subject to criminal charges for murder. I find it outright disgusting that a fertilized egg is owed more constitutional protection than a woman. Even more troubling is that this has been the trend in the past few decades - an utter assault on the somewhat progressive evolution of American society to a return to the “glory days” where racism, sexism, and classism ran amok. Even more alarming is that most citizens do not understand that the holding in Roe v. Wade is on life-support and it seems Conservatives (and even some liberals) are all too eager to pull the plug.
The Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade – 1973, that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy before viability, meaning the time at which the fetus can survive on its own outside the womb. In essence, the government could not prohibit abortions prior to viability and that government regulation of abortions had to meet strict scrutiny. Strict scrutiny simply means the government must have a compelling interest to pass a regulation that would impede upon a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. The strict scrutiny test has been done away with in favor of an undue burden test, which makes it much easier for the government to make it difficult for a woman to procure an abortion. Instead of delving into a long history of how the ruling of Roe v. Wade is no longer the current standard to apply, but instead a distant remnant, I’ll quickly describe how the government can regulate abortions today, which was not previously allowed by Roe v. Wade. It is now constitutionally permissible for the government to:
(1) Implement mandatory waiting periods for adult women’s abortions. An example is to make a woman wait a 24 hour period after meeting with a doctor so she can make an informed decision. It sounds reasonable, but the reality is, like in Mississippi, there is only one abortion clinic, so with travel and economic burdens, it becomes extremely difficult for a great number of women, specifically poor women, to have an abortion.
(2) Require the doctor to test fetal viability. This means a doctor can be required to do medical tests to make sure the fetus cannot sustain life outside the womb. This adds further monetary costs to a procedure that is already extremely costly for most, is not covered by most health care providers, and is not required to be covered by Medicaid.
(3) Regulate how an abortion is performed or prohibit partial birth abortions. So now a doctor can effectively be told how to do his job. Prohibiting partial birth abortions is nonsensical as well. Instead of removing the fetus from the womb and then killing it, which is medically proven to be much safer to the health of the mother, a doctor dissembles the fetus inside the woman with a knife-instrument and then attempts to remove what is left of the fetus.
These are but a few of the restrictions that can make it much more difficult for a woman to have an abortion. Getting an abortion is no easy process, regardless of whatever lies “pro-lifers” want to spout in their defense.
The Court in Roe v. Wade made a conscious choice not to define when actual personhood begins. It is ludicrous to attempt to define at what point “life” begins. There is no concensus in science and religion so it would be arbitrary to pick one group’s view over another. As a society we cannot even determine when life ends, so how the hell are we supposed to determine when it begins? (Even though I guess I could see the similarity between a fertilized egg in a refrigerator and a vegetable hooked up to life support.) So instead, why not make a compromise and say that once a fetus can live on its own outside the womb, we’ll allow the government to regulate if it can be terminated or not? Oh wait, that’s what Roe v. Wade accomplished. Is it too harsh to believe that the law should not force women to be incubators against their will, or too illogical or radical to allow each individual woman to decide for herself when personhood begins? I just love how certain sects of society care so much about that little tadpole looking fetus in the womb, but then don’t give two shits about that “person” once it leaves the womb and enters the real world.
For those of you who label women who have had abortions or the doctors that perform them as murders and should be punished as such, I say to you, “Please drink the Kool-Aid already!” This is why I don’t buy into social Darwinism because there are just too many ignorant people walking around. Is it not blasphemous for you religious zealots to take away one of your God’s most ultimate duties, that of the ultimate judge, and freely wield it as your own. It is perfectly justifiable in your minds to be able to put a human being to death in one instance, then in another deny a woman the ultimate choice of what to do with her body. If it really is a sin let the woman take it up with whatever God you believe in when she leaves this Earth. Society provides you enough ways to get your fix. Just visit any prison or project. We’re doing well enough as a society to keep the poor and racial other in a protracted state of misery to allow women this one little right.
The reality is that there have always been abortions and history suggests that this trend will continue. The ultimate goal should be to reduce abortions which can only be accomplished by reducing unintended pregnancies. There should be an open dialogue between parents and children, or teachers and students, about the actual risks and benefits of being sexually active. As a society we should also provide safe, legal services for women who find themselves in the unlucky position of needing an abortion. If we continue to make abortions unnecessarily costly the consequences will undoubtedly be felt, because the rich will always have abortions when it benefits them, so why not allow the less fortunate members of society the same courtesy. In the end somebody’s taxes will have to be spent to help raise that child (which I’m not arguing against), and it is abundantly clear with the top one percent’s refusal to pay their fair share that the burden will be placed on the middle and lower classes.