The following amendment is up for a vote in Mississippi this year:
“SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby 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 would ban all forms of hormonal birth control, IVF, and make pregnant women who have miscarriages or who have fertilized eggs that fail to implant be criminally liable for murder. Pregnancy doesn’t occur until after implantation, which doesn’t occur in up to 70% of fertilizations. If a fertilized egg doesn’t implant, do these people really think that that is a death? Am I committing manslaughter if my uterus just isn’t a friendly enough host?
Pregnant women have been arrested on murder charges for attempting suicide while pregnant and for having miscarriages, it’s absolute insanity.
Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.
And there’s this awesome fact from my home state:
South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.
Now, I admit that I am extremely pro-choice. I don’t believe that anyone should be forced to be pregnant if they don’t want to be. If the fetus isn’t viable, this means access to abortion, if the fetus is viable, this means access to inducing labor. Regardless of the personhood status of a fetus, I don’t believe in enslaving one person to keep another person alive. And if you think that’s a ridiculous analogy, explain to me “pro-life” people who believe in exceptions for rape and incest — these people don’t think abortion is murder, or they wouldn’t allow exceptions, they believe it is a punishment for women who have sex.
Being pregnant is a dangerous condition — to force someone to take on the risks against their will is cruel. Women develop chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, they die from complications, they are bankrupted by the high medical costs (it can cost $7000 for a birth without complications, premies can cost upwards of $100,000), and they are much more likely to be beaten or murdered.
And while maternal death rates in the US are lower than in the developing world, we’re 50th in the world. Meaning there are 49 countries where a woman is less likely to die from being pregnant than in the good old US of A. You are 14.5 times more likely to survive pregnancy in Greece than you are in the US. And for “each death, experts estimate, there are about 50 instances of complications related to pregnancy or childbirth that are life-threatening or cause permanent damage.” Why don’t you Google Image Search “fistula” and “vaginal prolapse”?
But even if you’re against abortion — and I hesitate to use the term pro-life here because I feel like that term should only apply to people who are also against the death penalty — surely you are for women not constantly being pregnant, right? All those things I just listed are much more likely to impact women who get pregnant many times, surely birth control is a wonderful compromise that allows fewer abortions, fewer pregnancies, and more wanted children, right?
So why this insane amendment that says life begins before pregnancy does? And if you’re so gung-ho pro-baby, why an amendment that makes IVF illegal? And if you consider yourself pro-life, don’t you want doctors to be able to save the life of women with ectopic pregnancies? Shouldn’t our government be trying to improve the economy and get people jobs, not trying to simplify personal moral choices into completely cartoonish slogans?
Rachel Maddow does a heroic job here of explaining the problem: