I’m happy to admit today that I was wrong. I underestimated the majority of the good people in the state of Mississippi, even those who harbor thoughtful anti-abortion religious and political sentiments. For now at least, fertilized eggs will not be deemed people too in Mississippi. Personhood can wait.
Mississippi voters soundly defeated a ballot initiative that would have established: "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization." The "personhood" ballot initiative was rejected by more than 55% -- a 3 to 2 margin -- in the hardest of hard core Bible belt states, where 80% of the population are against abortion.
Now, anti-abortion zealots will not be able to use the proposed mandate to provoke a challenge to the nationwide abortion rights of women as set forth in the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
The Mississippi Baptist Convention, the state's largest Christian denomination backed the proposal. The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the General Conference of the United Methodist Church opposed it even though the church is generally against abortion. The Mississippi State Medical Association refused to take sides, while other medical groups opposed it.
A Colorado-based group called Personhood USA successfully got the proposal on the Mississippi ballot hoping that a win would send shockwaves around the country. They’re also trying to put similar initiatives on ballots in Florida, Montana, Ohio and Oregon in 2012. They want to eventually make abortion illegal everywhere in America. But Colorado voters rejected similar proposals in 2008 and again in 2010.
The proposal gave some of the most ardent abortion opponents pause because of the potential unintended and unforeseen consequences of its implementation. Supporters hoped to force their religious beliefs on women, making them endure unwanted pregnancies, including even those caused by rape or incest.
It would have resulted not only in outlawing all abortions in the state, but also many types of birth control would have been deemed illegal, including the morning after pill and intrauterine devices. Doctors would have been deterred from performing in vitro fertilization for infertile couples since they would no longer be able to discard unused embryos.
Mississippi is already one of the toughest states in the country on abortion. There is only one clinic in the entire state where abortions are performed. Parental or judicial consent for any minor is required before an abortion. Mandatory in-person counseling and a 24-hour waiting period is also required.
But the good people of Mississippi, in the final analysis, were smart enough to stop short of implementing the radical and delusional concept of equal rights for eggs because they realize it defies all logic, reason and common sense. Its one thing to make a law prohibiting abortions, which at least has some rational basis; but quite another thing to define an egg as a person equal in law to other persons.
They realized the potential pitfalls that this law would have created, allowing the long arm of the state to actually penetrate inside the bodies of women, hopelessly conflicting with their constitutional rights by recognizing a person living inside the body of another person for nine months.
They decided not to give the state a legitimate legal interest in the sex lives and reproductive status of every woman of child bearing age and every man who copulates with her. The state pregnancy authorities could dictate virtually every aspect and activity of her life during the entire pregnancy if this proposal became law.
Every miscarriage would have required a formal coroner’s inquest and judicial investigation into the cause of the ‘person’s’ death to determine whether it was a homicide, an accident, or natural means. The egg would have acquired the right to a lawyer from the moment of conception. After all, it would have enjoyed constitutional rights.
So the voters of Mississippi concluded, and rightly so, that eggs should not be people too.
Personhood can wait.