‘Personhood’ May Be Back

Young reproductive-rights activists support the Jackson Women’s Health Organization during a January 2013 demonstration.

Young reproductive-rights activists support the Jackson Women’s Health Organization during a January 2013 demonstration. Photo by Trip Burns.

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Courtesy Andrew Yerger

Dr. Clifton Story, the director of University Health Services at Mississippi State, disagrees with many medical professionals on the Personhood issue. He believes God is there when an egg is fertilized so killing it is the same as killing a person.

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Diane Derzis, owner of the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, calls Personhood amendments “offensive” legislation designed by men.

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Michelle Colon, an abortion-rights activist, argues that Personhood amendments make neither constitutional, logical nor medical sense.

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Les Riley led efforts to collect more than 130,000 signatures for the state to place initiative 26 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Keith Dalton, a Jackson-area landscape worker and local punk musician, had never involved himself with the anti-abortion movement. In fact, he hated seeing the people with signs outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the last operating abortion clinic in Mississippi.

One day, while driving past protesters outside the bright pink building in Fondren on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Dalton started to weep. He said God placed a burden on his heart after seeing two girls outside the clinic crying and handing out informational pamphlets about abortion. He went home and tried to shake the feeling that God was calling him to act, but it never went away.

"God put it on my heart to come out here every morning to this spot and pray for God to have mercy on the women that come in," Dalton said.

Dalton joined the anti-abortion movement three months ago, and while he is still learning the ins and outs, he said he supports the Personhood initiative that seeks to outlaw abortion, and other services, in Mississippi. Personhood Mississippi is currently campaigning for Initiative 41 to appear again on the ballot in 2015.

Personhood was on the 2011 ballot as Initiative 26, also referred to as Amendment 26. Most voters—58 percent, with votes from the left and the right—listened to voter concerns, which included prohibition of birth-control pills and in vitro fertilization and possible death of the mother in life-threatening pregnancy, and voted down the bill on Nov. 8, 2011.

Dalton acknowledges the possible outcomes of Personhood, like the ban of hormonal birth control, but said, "For me personally, we don't use birth control, so it wouldn't affect me." He also believes saving fertilized eggs from being terminated offsets the sacrifices.

Failed The First Time

The anti-abortion organization  Personhood Mississippi  filed paperwork for Initiative 41 on March 5, 2013. If supporters gather 107,216 signatures by May 14, 2014, the bill will appear on the ballot in November 2015.

Anne Reed, spokeswoman for Personhood Mississippi, said the language of Amendment 26 confused voters, which is why her group believes the bill failed to pass. She said, with confidence, that the wording of Initiative 41 is much clearer, and Personhood Mississippi should not have a hard time collecting the needed amount of signatures.

Initiative 41 reads: "The right to life begins at conception. All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God's image and shall enjoy an inalienable right to life."

Initiative 26 read: "Should the term 'person' be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?"

Jonelle Husain, a Mississippi State University graduate student and sociology instructor who has focused much of her research on abortion, said she was insulted when Personhood advocates immediately attributed the bill's failure to Mississippi voters being misinformed and misunderstanding the amendment.

"I don't know any voters who had been active on this issue that you could define as being confused by any stretch of the imagination," Husain said.

Atlee Breland, the founder of Parents Against Personhood who lives in Brandon, said most voters don't want to endure another Personhood campaign. "The vote and the campaign was very decisive for people," Breland said.

The Science Of Personhood

Breland, mother of three healthy children conceived through fertility treatment, said Personhood would entirely diminish women's ability to receive IVF. Freezing embryos, for example, would be banned under Personhood.

"When you say that (an embryo or zygote) is a person with a right to life, you can't do things that might potentially damage or injure that embryo's right to life. Even if you're otherwise doing them for a good cause," Breland said. "There's no way out of this conundrum that makes IVF possible under Personhood."

Reed ignores voters' and physicians' concern about Personhood implications by focusing on the well-being of the zygote—the fertilized egg.

"For those of us who might ask the question, 'Well, what about this and what about that?' if we're talking about exceptions, my question is, 'When is it alright to kill an innocent human being?' My answer to that is, 'It's never alright,'" Reed said in an interview.

The ambiguity of the language in the Personhood amendment makes it hard for Dr. Randall Hines of Mississippi Reproductive Medicine in Flowood to know exactly how the bill would affect reproductive health. He said the law lacks specificity, and its application would depend solely on the different courts' interpretations of the amendment.

Hines said any procedure during which a zygote is damaged could be questioned and potentially outlawed. Embryo cryopreservation, which is essential for in vitro fertilization, could be threatened.

"In the course of IVF or in the course of natural reproduction, eggs and embryos don't survive," Hines said. "If you took to the extreme, you would say every reproductive process could be jeopardized."

Birth-control methods that affect a mother's womb and could come in contact with and stop the growth of a fertilized egg could be questioned under Personhood.

"Almost every birth-control method has more than one mechanism, so depending on which mechanism of action you focus on, you could perhaps challenge any of them," Hines said.

In the case of a life-threatening pregnancy like ectopic pregnancy, during which a zygote forms in a mother's fallopian tubes, doctors must remove the fertilized egg surgically or medically. "You can't do any of those if your action is going to be interpreted by a court as violating the legal rights of a person," Hines said.

"The law is not specific enough, so it would be total chaos trying to figure out what was actually going to happen," Hines said.

Hines is confident voters would strike down Personhood a second time around, saying that legislation with ambiguous consequences is not logical.

"Courts and legislative bodies don't really play a role and should not play a role in (medical decision making). Patients should have autonomy, and doctors should practice medicine based on science, not based on some ill-conceived notion somebody has," Hines said.

"It is very frightening when you take these decisions away from doctors and patients, and start telling judges, 'You are responsible for the decision,'" Breland said.

Michelle Colon, a pro-abortion-rights activist who works as a clinic escort at the Jackson Women's Heath Organization, said Personhood does not make sense constitutionally, logically, or medically.

"Does that mean if I'm a pregnant woman I get two votes when I vote?" Colon said.

Diane Derzis, the owner of the abortion clinic, agrees with the analogy. "I think that if that person (zygote) could vote then the woman would have two votes, and that might scare the hell out of men."

"This has to be the most offensive piece of legislation ever designed by a man," Derzis said.

The Jackson Free Press reported in 2011 that Les Riley led the effort to obtain the 130,000 signatures to put Personhood on the ballot in 2011. Riley, a trailer salesman from Pontotoc, founded Personhood Mississippi, which is part of a national movement, Personhood U.S.A. Riley is a former member of the neo-Confederate League of the South and is a leader of the state's secessionist Constitution Party. The Right Wing Watch website calls him a "Christian separatist."

When announcing the new campaign last year to get Personhood back on the ballot, Riley told the media on a conference call: "(Voters) didn't understand the last amendment."

Traumatized Women?

Nick Bell, president of Students For Life, a pro-life organization at Mississippi State University, said his group focuses on the belief that life begins at conception, leaving other political and religious values up to each individual member. The group also raises awareness for the crisis pregnancy center in Starkville located on Academy Road. Bell said women who have abortions suffer from regret and feeling like a part of them has died.

"They have been so badly affected by their traumatic experience that they have now dedicated their lives to helping and counseling women who are considering abortion and women who have had (an) abortion," Bell said. "They say that they do not wish for other women to experience what they did, and so they want to help prevent that from happening to others."

Like Dalton, Bell considers not only the embryo but also the woman experiencing the unwanted pregnancy, believing that preventing abortion helps women.

Husain said that such generalizations about women who have chosen to have abortions further stigmatize the procedure by asserting that all women who have abortions are psychologically traumatized. These stories are part of a narrative used by pro-life advocates for political gain, she said.

The sociology instructor is writing her dissertation on reproductive justice and the anti-abortion movement, focusing her research on women in post-abortion recovery groups sponsored by crisis pregnancy centers. Women in these groups suffer from regret, depression and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. She found that the stories of women who attend these groups do not reflect that of the majority of women who have had abortions.

"Those claims, that abortion causes trauma that is similar to post-traumatic stress disorder, are not just without basis in the scientific literature, but all the major medical associations in the U.S. vehemently disputed those claims," Husain said. "There is just no data to support it."

This narrative, as Husain described it, is more of a construct by anti-abortion advocates, who publicize uncommon stories to advance their agenda. At the end of the recovery group session, women are encouraged to tell their stories publicly.

A study published in Perspectives On Sexual & Reproductive Health found that women in the United States had an estimated 1.2 million abortions in 2005.

"Only a very small number of women in that group claim to suffer negative effects, which raises questions about the legitimacy of these claims," Husain said. "I've had an abortion, and I don't hide that fact. Do I regret it? No. I don't regret the decision I made. I regret finding myself in those circumstances, but that's different. But you don't hear our stories."

Participating in these recovery groups, Husain said, changes how women understand their abortions.

Nada Scotland, former president of the American Psychiatric Association, has conducted research and written articles for the Journal of American Medical Association. She asserts that no scientific evidence links depression or other psychiatric diseases to abortion.

Colon said women will terminate pregnancies they do not want, and outlawing safe medical abortions creates dangerous situations for women facing unwanted pregnancies.

"It's stripping women of their autonomy, of their personhood," Colon said. "All woman should support the expansion of women's rights, not the restricting of women's rights."

A Utilitarian Argument

Dr. Clifton W. Story, executive director of University Health Services at Mississippi State, has worked as a doctor at MSU since 2008. Among other general physician care, Story deals with the day-to-day reproductive health of women. He has experience in prescribing birth control and diagnosing pregnancy.

Story, on whose office wall hangs a painting of a Jesus-like figure guiding the hand of a doctor performing surgery, agrees with the language in the Personhood amendment.

"I believe we're created by God. I think God is the one that initiates all that," Story said. "When the sperm and egg come together almost immediately, or within a few days anyway, the chromosomes that make up who we are and who we become are established."

Story, due to his religious beliefs, believes that the rights of the unborn babies outweigh those of pregnant women needing medical services that he wants to see prohibited. He doesn't know exactly what the amendment's language should include, but said the bill should address the devastating issue of abortion.

"I think we cloud the issue by worrying about these side issues—the IVF, the safety of the mother—and then we're still missing this very huge population of babies that are aborted, that are never given the chance to live," Story said.

Anja Scheib, MSU freshman business major and SFL member, said SFL does recognize one exception to the Personhood argument—ectopic pregnancy.

"There's no way the baby can survive, so at that point we consider saving the mom," Scheib said.

Although Personhood prohibits destroying a fertilized egg with no exceptions, Bell and Scheib both said they would vote for the bill, prioritizing the abolishment of abortion over allowing women to choose whether to have a child or to protect their own lives.

Husain, however, said that the Personhood amendment is an assault on the reproductive rights of women.

"I think the idea that we would have a legislative body inserting itself between the most private relationship, between a woman and her doctor, is just ludicrous," she said. "You can't, in one breath, say that women have equality when you are trying to take from them or threaten their most fundamental right, and that is to decide when and under what circumstances that they will be pregnant and have a child."


Comments

DrewHymer 9 months ago

The pro-aborts offer lies and distortions abort Personhood. Here's the latest language:

The right to life begins at conception. All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God’s image and shall have an inalienable right to life.

It's clear that it would only ban the intentional killing of a human being

---"ban of hormonal birth control" Only if the birth control kills a human being. You would need to show that the hormonal birth control kills a human being. Plan B, for example, doesn't kill a human being. See http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/05/03/fox-ignores-evidence-that-plan-b-does-not-incre/193899

---"reproductive process could be jeopardized" That's just stupid. Dying of natural causes is not a violation of one's right to life. The right to life means the right not to be killed.

---"Freezing embryos, for example, would be banned" If freezing causes the death of embryos, it should be banned. Luckily, IVF doesn't need to freeze embryos. You can freeze eggs or you can use them fresh. http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/19/health/egg-freezing

--"Embryo cryopreservation, which is essential for in vitro fertilization," Saying it a different way, does not make it true. Freezing eggs will always be available.

---"There's no way out of this conundrum that makes IVF possible under Personhood" Wrong. IVF is about creating human beings not destroying them. Personhood only means that IVF clinics need to care for the embryos in their care.

--"focusing on the well-being of the zygote—the fertilized egg." Read it. The Personhood amendment only applies to human beings. Eggs are not protected.

--"doctors must remove the fertilized egg surgically or medically. "You can't do any of those" Wrong again. This is just dystopia nonsense. Nowhere in the amendment does it prohibit life-saving medical treatment, including for ectopic pregnancy. To suggest that any legislature will outlaw life-saving medical treatment for pregnant women is ridiculous. The amendment doesn't demand it neither does anyone else.

--"Does that mean if I'm a pregnant woman I get two votes when I vote?" Colon said." That's hardcore stupid. Newborns and three year olds are persons so Colon must think they get to vote.

See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/countering-pro-abortion-lies-about-personhood-2/

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tstauffer 9 months ago

@DrewHymer I let this comment through because it presents an argument, but in any future comments please train to reign in calling other people's arguments "stupid" -- let's have this conversation at an intelligent, respectful level. Thanks!

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tomhead1978 9 months ago

Hi, Drew —

The Personhood Amendment would define all eggs as persons "from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof." This includes zygotes/blastocysts (fertilized eggs); your statement that "eggs are not protected," in reference to a comment specifically made about fertilized eggs, is simply not correct. I suspect your description of the amendment's effect on IVF is equally incorrect, for the same reason.

Hormonal birth control usually works by preventing the fertilization of an egg, but according to some experts it may sometimes work by preventing the implantation of a fertilized blastocyst by making the uterine environment inhospitable for same (which is one of the reasons why so many people in the anti-abortion movement also take a dim view of hormonal birth control). Because the Personhood Amendment states that life begins at the moment of fertilization, not implantation in the uterus, it could—and, if enforced, undoubtably would—be used to prohibit IUDs and hormonal birth control (including Plan B). More on that here.

Bottom line: if all they wanted to ban was the destruction of fetuses and embryos, they would have said "the beginning of pregnancy" (which is post-implantation) rather than "the moment of fertilization" (which is pre-implantation). The language they've chosen intentionally targets hormonal birth control. (Since this is their second time at bat, and we called them on it last time around, they can no longer claim ignorance.) And while I don't think they targeted IVF in the same way, it is affected by the same language.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

Tomhead1978,

--- "eggs are not protected," in reference to a comment specifically made about fertilized eggs ----

Pro-aborts love to use the dehumanizing term "fertilized eggs" to pretend that a newly conceived human being isn't a human being.

But the personhood amendment only protects human beings, not eggs.

----- amendment's effect on IVF is equally incorrect-----

That's all you got? i linked to an article that explains that people can freeze eggs. This shows that freezing embryos is not necessary. So, all the idiocy about Personhood banning IVF is just scare-mongering.

-----if enforced, undoubtably would—be used to prohibit IUDs and hormonal birth control ----

You'd have to prove that such methods cause an embryo's death. If they do, they should be banned. But Media Matters explains that Plan B does not cause death. They say the evidence is quite clear that it doesn't. See http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/11/30/fox-uses-hobby-lobby-case-to-falsely-call-morni/197085

-----they would have said... post-implantation ---- What you suggest wouldn't make any sense because a human being's life doesn't begin at implantation but at conception. Personhood folks are not targeting hormonal birth control or IVF. They just want to protect all human beings.

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tstauffer 9 months ago

What you suggest wouldn't make any sense because a human being's life doesn't begin at implantation but at conception.

Just for the record, this is an EXCELLENT example of "begging the question" -- that poor, so often mis-applied logical fallacy. The idea that "life begins at conception" is exactly the issue at hand, and you're assuming it's truth -- when it's exactly the premise that people disagree over -- and then building your argument on top of it.

Just wanted to point that out. Carry on -- agreeably.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

tstauffer,

The fact that conception begins the life of a human being is an established scientific fact. There's no question-begging when the evidence is quite clear.

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donnaladd 9 months ago

Leaders in Mississippi's Personhood campaign ("anti-aborts" in your parlance) certainly believe that hormonal birth control is a form of abortion. They've made no secret about it. Here is one national story about Jackson-area anti-aborts (again, your language).

It is interesting to see you, Drew, clarify that "fertilized eggs" are human beings. I think you just shot your own argument in the foot there.

The bottom line is exactly what you're illustrating: Some people, such as yourself, do not believe Personhood would stop hormonal birth control, IVF, etc. Others, however, are campaigning for it because they know it will give them the legal grounds to do exactly that.

Thus, the dangerous confusion of the vagueness, which is clearly on purpose. We appreciate you coming by to help prove that to other readers.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

certainly believe that hormonal birth control is a form of abortion.

Sure, some people believe that but can they prove it? If they can prove it then those items should be banned. The folks at life training institute make a good case that birth control pills don't cause abortion. See http://lti-blog.blogspot.com/2008/06/does-thin-uterine-lining-support-pill.html

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js1976 8 months, 4 weeks ago

The first sentence from the blog you posted.

"I believe the most frequently cited evidence for a "baby-killing" mechanism for oral contraceptives (OCs) is the thinning of the uterine lining that occurs when a woman is on OCs. First, I do not dispute this fact:"

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

the dangerous confusion of the vagueness

Principles matter. One of those principles is that each human being is a human rights bearing individual. That principle should be put into the constitutions of every government.

How those principles apply to specifics will depend on the facts. If (and that's a big IF) BC pills cause abortions, they should be banned when used for that purpose. Those who claim that BC pills cause abortions need to show it.

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js1976 9 months ago

(c) The State of Mississippi shall not punish the crime of sexual assault with the death penalty, and neither shall persons conceived through a sexual assault be punished with the loss of his or her life

Again, one of the reasons I would NOT vote for another personhood amendment! The thought of telling a rape victim that they must carry and give birth to a child conceived by such an event is ludicrous. Experiencing something like this is traumatic enough without the State of Ms telling a victim that they have no say in this decision.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

js1976,

Rape is horrible. But why is rape horrible? It's because someone uses violence to trample on an innocent human being.

And that's exactly what abortion is. Rape and abortion are wrong for the same reason.

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js1976 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Forcing someone to carry a child conceived from an act such as this is horrible.

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

You're right. The rapist has forced a woman to carry a child. He should be severely punished. The baby shouldn't be punished.

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js1976 8 months, 3 weeks ago

So you have no problem punishing the woman or her family? I would love to state exactly how I feel about this point of view, but It would violate the terms of the JFP!

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js1976 9 months ago

"What you suggest wouldn't make any sense because a human being's life doesn't begin at implantation but at conception."

Based on this theory the use of IUD's are now again a problem, considering they do not prevent conception.

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tomhead1978 9 months ago

Drew, your second post completely contradicts your first. My suggestion would be to make yourself more familiar with the text of the Personhood Amendment before you defend it further.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

tomhead1978,

i see no contradictions. you need to explain where you've imagined the contradictions.

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cristenhemmins 9 months ago

The argument that people against Personhood are "pro-abortion" is ludicrous. I am all for decreasing the need for abortions by increasing access to contraception, family planning, and evidence-based sex education. Abortion is a medically-necessary medical procedure for many woman, for many different reasons. None of us need the government injected into these personal medical decisions.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

personal medical decisions.

When there's a victim -- the unborn baby -- it's not a personal decision.

And almost all abortions have nothing to do with medicine. Unless of course, you think pregnancy is a disease or pathology. And since women's bodies are designed for pregnancy, you're saying that are defective.

It's quite misogynist to such that abortion is medicine.

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DougMcBurney 9 months ago

Author Anna Wolfe may set the record, with this article, for uses of the work "zygote" & "fertilized egg" in reference to a tiny defenseless human being.

Calling a baby girl in the womb a "fertilized egg" in 2014 is like calling a back woman in the field a ni**er in 1850. Willful dehumanization intended to to do harm.

Someday history will look on both with similar disdain....

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tomhead1978 9 months ago

Doug, I will be so glad when white anti-abortion activists stop casually using racial epithets. I recognize that you're trying to be shocking and evocative, but it's unpersuasive and casts your movement in a bad light.

In the United States, the terminology is as follows:

  • Egg/ovum: The unfertilized egg.
  • Zygote, fertilized egg, or blastocyst: The nearly-microscopic egg after it has been fertilized with sperm, but before pregnancy (implantation in the uterus). "Fertilized egg," being the least technical term, is generally preferred.
  • Embryo: The new life within the first 8 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Fetus: The new life after the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, but before birth.
  • Baby: The new life at and after birth.

Current law protects babies and some fetuses. The Personhood Amendment acknowledges no distinction between babies and zygotes/blastocysts/fertilized eggs, prohibiting not only the termination of pregnancies but also the prevention of some pregnancies that have not yet occurred.

In Britain, the word "embryo" is often used more casually to refer to fertilized eggs. This can make British arguments about birth control really confusing to read. I strive for clarify, as (I presume) does Ms. Wolfe. If you go around describing a 12-micron egg as a "baby girl," you're going to confuse most people.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

tomhead1978,

DougMcburney is correct. The entire point of using the term "fertilized egg" is to dehumanize the victim. His comparison with racism is completely on point.

Instead of arguing why these tiny human beings shouldn't have a right to life, pro-aborts simply chant "fertilized egg". It's cheap and easy.

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tomhead1978 9 months ago

Drew, the entire point of using the term "fertilized egg" is to distinguish fertilized eggs from unfertilized eggs (and given that you confused the two earlier in the thread, this is a timely distinction). Abortion is, in any case, equally irrelevant to both; you can't perform an abortion on a woman who isn't pregnant yet, and by the time the pregnancy begins the entity you're discussing has become an embryo. The legal status of fertilized eggs becomes relevant only if you're trying to ban hormonal birth control and IUDs, which is what the Personhood Amendment was written to do.

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AnnaWolfe 9 months ago

To clarify, a zygote is formed when an egg is fertilized. "Fertilized-egg" is a term then used to illustrate to readers what a zygote is. That's how it's used here.

In response to scientific evidence: "The fact that conception begins the life of a human being is an established scientific fact. There's no question-begging when the evidence is quite clear."

Biologically a human begins its growth at conception -- that is true and in my understanding, no one contests this. But when defining conception as the beginning of the life of a "person" we are moving into a moral realm, in which biology cannot be used as an argument. It is this moral argument -- that a "fertilized-egg" is a person -- that Personhood supporters must prove. The claim above, that conception is the beginning of biological human life, does not, in my understanding, support Personhood.

Thanks for discussion!

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

---that a "fertilized-egg" is a person -- that Personhood supporters must prove.---

Both sides have a burden of proof. I offer that this no moral difference between a newborn and newly conceived human being. The differences of size, level of development, location, and degree of dependency simply cannot change a human being's worth.

All human beings vary in capability. In no way are our capabilities equal yet we're all equal. How can that be? There's only one thing that's equal about us: our humanity. Human beings are equal by virtue of being a human being. Because we gain our humanity at conception, we also gain our equality (and right to life) at conception.

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bjp58 9 months ago

Not this garbage again. This initiative is clearly designed to outlaw abortion, which is no doubt legal up to certain stages of fetal development. The language that is being used leaves this thing so wide open to interpretation that this will be constantly challenged in court, thus spending valuable tax dollars on a foolish game instead of putting it to good use in areas such as education, planned parenthood (gasp) and job training.

Why do people feel the need to inject themselves into what is clearly a medical decision between a woman and her doctor? This question leads me to think that this is a bunch of folks stuck in the "Leave It To Beaver" land of the 1950s who want to keep women home washing, cooking and cleaning. Guys, if that is all you want for a women to be besides your on-demand sex partner, then go hire a maid and a pro. My wife and the millions of other women in this world deserve to determine their own life path without the interference of a bunch of misguided people who think they know what is best for me, my wife and my family.

Being the father of two grown women, I would respect whatever choice they made if they were faced with terminating any pregnancy. I would still love them and accept them and know that I raised them to be independent thinkers and to make the best choices that they can, regardless of the circumstances or pressure. I would clearly vote against this again because this group does not have the best interest of me or my family in mind or the millions of other families. All they same to want is headlines.

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Lindahelen 9 months ago

The language of this second attempt at Personhood is deliberately vague and designed to confuse the average voter. Legal interpretations of said language would indeed open the door for further limitations on a woman's right to make her own medical decisions without undue interference from those who have no place in an exam room.

Religious beliefs are to be respected--but do not in any way give the believer the right to force their theology onto those who do not believe the same way. Ultimately, that is the purpose of this amendment. The secondary purpose--though in no way less damaging--is to further curtail the rights of women.

Yes, I believe that life begins at conception. I also believe that the life of the woman has primary importance since she is already 'here' while a pregnancy is merely POTENTIAL life until the legally recognized stage of viability is reached. If I did not inform myself about the many layers of potential interpretations and further limitations of women's rights implied in the language used, I too would most likely vote 'Yes' on its' face value.

The voters have already spoken out LOUDLY on this issue and I hope that in November--if the efforts to obtain the required number of signatures is successful--they will gather together to give the same answer.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

Lindahelen,

---make her own medical decisions--- Abortion is not a medical decision. It's misogyny to suggest that abortion is medicine because it assumes that pregnancy is a defect (and thus women are defective).

---the right to force their theology --- Every time a woman has an abortion, she, her husband and the abortionist are forcing their theology on the unborn baby. And their using lethal force to force that view. Since you oppose forcing views on others, you should oppose abortion.

---curtail the rights of women.--- Killing the innocent isn't a "right of women" or men. So, stopping such killings don't curtail any rights.

--- is merely POTENTIAL life--- This shows you know very little about biology. Of course, the baby is alive. Only living things grow biologically.

---The voters have already spoken out LOUDLY--- Yes, after the pro-aborts inundated them with lies like those in the above article. If the pro-aborts will stop lying, we could have an intelligent conversation.

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DrewHymer 9 months ago

---- confused the two earlier in the thread----

i confused nothing. I used my terms in such a way to point out the way pro-aborts use language to cheat instead of using rational argument.

If you want to distinguish between an egg and a newly conceived human being, you can merely call the human being a human being. The term "fertilized egg" is all about using language to dehumanize the victim.

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Lindahelen 9 months ago

The decision to have an abortion is absolutely a medical decision. It is a decision made a woman about her own body in a medical exam room with the counsel of a medical professional. Pregnancy is not a defect--but the pregnancy itself can be defective. Removing a woman's right to terminate a high-risk pregnancy before it kills her is defective reasoning in favor of potential life (in that the stage of viability has not been reached while termination will guarantee the survival of the woman).

Drew, there's no point in responding to any further of your comments. I'd rather you called me a liar than accede to your idea of an "intelligent discussion" since that would mean agreeing with your implied meaning that a woman's life is valuable only in relation to who has control over her uterus. I refuse to accept your precept that life in potential takes precedence over a living, breathing human being who is already contributing to society.

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

---Removing a woman's right to terminate a high-risk pregnancy ---

Nobody is proposing that. A personhood amendment doesn't say women can't get life-saving medical treatment. That's just one of those lies. See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/under-personhood-can-mothers-get-life-saving-medical-treatment/

--woman's life is valuable only in relation to who has control over her uterus--

Thats purely a strawman. Nobody is making such an argument. Neither is it implied in a personhood amendment. Women (and men) have a responsibility to care for their children. Parental obligation is part of being a mature person. Parents shouldn't be able to escape their responsibility by killing the one to whom they're obligated.

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tomhead1978 9 months ago

This thread hasn't taught me anything new about the Personhood Amendment, but it has given me a pretty solid idea of how Drew Hymer sees women. That's information I never asked for, and I kind of wish I could scrub it out of my brain.

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js1976 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Actually this thread has been very informative in regards to the Personhood Amendment and I now know how I will vote thanks to Drew Hymer's informative comments. I will be voting no once again.

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brjohn9 9 months ago

Drew, all you're doing here is begging the question, as Todd suggested.

I hold a traditional Christian view of when human life begins, which is when the baby draws its first breath. I can only assume that you are an atheist, as you hold a mechanistic view of when life begins, which seems to consist entirely of the formation of a unique combination of chromosomes. What that has to do with the soul is beyond me. There is no basis in the Bible for your view, and it is not a part of Christian traditions.

If you want people to adopt your view, you have to explain why we should. Instead, you just keep insisting over and over again that it's obviously true. But it isn't obvious at all.

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

BrJohn9, if you think i'm question-begging, you need to explain how.

----Christian view of when human life begins--- That's interesting because John the Baptist leapt within his mother's womb at the presence of Jesus who was in his mother's womb. The Bible makes it quite obvious that both John (at 6 months) and Jesus (at a few days) were both alive.

That sounds like a pretty good basis from the Bible for my position.

You're correct though that i'm not a Christian. I just know the Bible better than you do.

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donnaladd 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Drew, I've been Googling around on your name to see what you've said in the past. You're still with Personhood? Are you the "data czar"? Is this your post?

And I found this article that you seem to wholeheartedly support. Just trying to figure out what you're trying to save above, being that it seems inconsistent. My advice is to stand by your opinion and not be wishy-washy. It strikes me that many Personhood leaders, apparently such as yourself, are trying to push one thing, which encompasses more than no abortion whatsoever by defining "abortion" differently than many others do (including many anti-abortion folks). But when others talk about it, y'all show up and try to push back on it, presumably because you're afraid that the extremism of Personhood will turn off many voters, as it clearly did in 2011 in Mississippi.

But, this kind of inconsistency and intentional vagueness is in no way helping your case, as far as I can see. It almost seems intentionally designed to hurt your efforts. Sure y'all don't have someone undercover in there trying to sink your efforts? Kidding (sort of).

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js1976 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Drew Hymer of Personhood's national office had this to say to the Eugene Weekly when they were pushing this ammendment in Oregon.

"Hymer acknowledged that the amendment would ban forms of birth control that acted after fertilization."

"Hymer also admitted that the amendment would make it harder for a woman whose health was compromised by her pregnancy to get an abortion."

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

--- ban forms of birth control that acted after fertilization."---

Abortion causing drugs should be banned.

There's nothing in any personhood amendment that would stop a woman from getting life-saving medical treatment. See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/under-personhood-can-mothers-get-life-saving-medical-treatment/

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Donnaladd,

It would help if you point any inconsistencies. Without specifics, i really don't have any idea what you're talking about.

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donnaladd 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Here, Drew, on the AAUW website, you call people liars and, most interestingly, indicate that Personhood would NOT stop abortion when needed to save the life of the mother. More inconsistency? Would love you to explain how all this fits together, including with what other Personhood USA and Personhood Mississippi advocates say:

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

---NOT stop abortion when needed to save the life of the mother. More inconsistency? ---

There's no inconsistency. Recognizing prenatal right to life would not stop pregnant mothers from getting life-saving medical treatment. See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/under-personhood-can-mothers-get-life-saving-medical-treatment/

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donnaladd 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Nice find, js. Funny that you snuck that in right above my last screenshot of a comment, presumably, by Drew that directly contradicts what you posted by him. You and I make a good team when we're not fighting. ;-)

So, which is it, Drew? Would your Personhood allow "removal" if it saved the life of the mother or not? You seem fond of calling people "liars" and "stupid" -- but you really do seem to be saying at least two very different things here.

It feels to me that you're just showing up in different places and calling Personhood critics liars to tamp down criticism of a very vague potential law. Regardless of what you have said yourself in the past.

Of course, I could be wrong.

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

Donnaladd, i'm trying to figure out the supposed contradiction.

Yes, of course, a pregnant mother can have the baby removed to save her life. Nothing in a personhood amendment implies otherwise.

Donnaladd, i appreciate that you seem to be seriously assessing my view. I'd like to address your question but i don't understand what "two very different things" i'm saying. Could you elaborate?

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yocona 8 months, 4 weeks ago

If Personhood were enacted, a corpse would have more bodily autonomy than I do. There is no state in the Union which mandates harvesting of body parts from the dead in order to preserve the life of the living, yet the Personhood state would demand access to my body by mandating that I carry a zygote to term. No born person's right to life entitles them access to another person's body in order to survive, even when that person is dead. Instead, we agree that organ donation is a voluntary decision.

Despite this, Drew insists that we bestow rights on a fertilized egg to which living, breathing humans are not entitled. If as Drew says in his first comment here, "All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God’s image and shall have an inalienable right to life," then why is he not also championing the cause of mandatory organ donations?

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DrewHymer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

--- by mandating that I carry a zygote to term---

You created a human being in a needy state. You have a debt to care for that human being. Of course the state should mandate that you fulfill your debt to care for your child.

---we bestow rights on a fertilized egg to which living, breathing humans are not entitled.---

Wrong. All children, born and unborn, have a right to their parents' care. This is because the parents cause them to be needy. That's the basis of parental obligation. See http://www.personhoodusa.com/blog/why-parental-obligation/

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tstauffer 8 months, 4 weeks ago

You created a human being in a needy state. You have a debt to care for that human being. Of course the state should mandate that you fulfill your debt to care for your child.

Ah. Interesting. Is this the part of your argument that applies to rape cases? I thought it was because life began in the eyes of God at conception.

Once we remove an appeal to God as the exclusive premise in your argument, as you've now done (with some justification -- Jesus himself said nothing about abortion; indeed the Bible doesn't mention it specifically) -- it's interesting to note the tenor of blame -- perhaps we could call it "judgement"? -- sneaking in.

The "you" in the quoted sentence appears to be the mother (I've seen no evidence that Personhood legislation mandates any action on the part of the the father even though he was there -- with or without God -- at the moment of conception) and it seems to be her "duty" that she's to suffer for her transgressions by, say, allowing herself to be raped or molested, or for failing to use birth control, or for using birth control that failed, or in cases where she finds that she's carrying a child that won't make it to term, or that will be severely disabled, or that she knows she can't care for properly during or after the pregnancy.

Do you see the problem? (I assume you don't. After all, it's not really your problem.)

Maybe if Personhood mandated taking the zygote out of the woman who doesn't want or can't take it to term and putting it in someone who can -- or putting it in the father so he could bring it to term -- then your judgement wouldn't seem so one-sided and inhumane.

But the problem is it doesn't work that way, so your only option is to take the perfectly in-God's-image human girl or woman right there in front of you and condemn her without regard to circumstance to whatever fate she has in store in favor of -- and with extreme prejudice for -- the potential life she may or may not bring into the world.

How can we rectify this situation? DrewHymer has made his stance clear. We judge the person who is already here and have the state mandate her actions. Why? Because she is, in his judgment, required to fulfill her "debt." (Would similar words work? Trespasses? Sins?)

And that's why -- for my money and vote -- I don't think it makes ANY SENSE that we should defer to DrewHymer's opinion when it comes to whether a woman has the right to make her own medical decisions.

I certainly will look for opportunities to keep your opinion from becoming law, DrewHymer. Not that you aren't welcome to your opinion, because it's a "free country."

Even if your opinion is that the country should be a less free for others.

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js1976 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I would like to take a moment to thank Mr Drew Hymer for this enlightening discussion. HIs Taliban like stance towards rape victims and repeated contradictions will certainly help to prevent this ammendment from getting any support from the State of MS.

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donnaladd 8 months, 3 weeks ago

You and I agree again, js. I've found his remarks most helpful and enlightening as to Personhood's motives.

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