This past Tuesday as voters in Connecticut took to the polls to vote on local issues and elect leaders in their respective towns, voters in other states were voting on even larger issues with far more reaching consequences.
Down in Mississippi, constituents were voting on Initiative 26 which was pushed by Personhood USA, a Colorado based Christian ministry that is aiming to recognize human personhood as beginning at the moment of conception with no exceptions.
Personhood USA had already posed a similar measure in Colorado in 2008 and 2010, where it was twice defeated. They are already aiming to have similar measures for voters in Florida, Ohio, Oregon and Montana in 2012.
Mississippi, with its extremely strict abortion laws already in place, was expected to be the first state to pass the measure. If it were to pass, its supporters hoped it would have led the way for other states to pass the measure and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that deemed abortion legal in the United States in the first place.
While the entire idea of ‘personhood’ beginning at the moment of fertilization is appalling, laughable, mind-boggling and whatever other colorful descriptions you can think of, the actual consequences of the measure are anything but.
The main objective of personhood amendments is to make abortion illegal across the United States, but the consequences would be even more far reaching.
Abortion, certain birth control methods and even in-vitro fertilization could all become illegal should Personhood USA have their way. Abortion is the most obvious simply because if personhood begins at the moment of fertilization, it would actually be murder. Birth control options, such as the morning after pill (which is not the same as the abortion pill, thank you very much), would also be illegal as they prevent pregnancy from occurring.
Attempting to redefine human personhood to be equivalent to the moment of conception is problematic. Plenty of people can agree on that, as evident by 55 percent of Mississippi voters rejecting the measure. But the actual reasons such a measure is so problematic is not what most people agree on.
At their best, personhood measures are largely useless and a waste of time. At their worst, personhood measures are yet another attempt to take away a woman’s say in what happens to her own body.
If you notice, in their wording such measures never take into account the well-being of women. They are always all about protecting the life of the unborn never the lives of the already born.
This is the exact reason that personhood measures do not make any exceptions for cases of pregnancy as a result of rape or incest. The suffering a woman has to go through does not matter, so long as the eventual baby is a-okay.
Should a pregnancy result in miscarriage, a woman could suddenly find herself facing criminal charge because the fetus she had been carrying was a person. The fact it would not have been viable outside of the womb? It’s a non-issue in this case.
Astounding as it is, personhood does not really address what exactly would happen if a woman’s life is in danger and terminating a pregnancy becomes necessary. It’s pretty easy to assume that this would also be illegal. After all, the “Let Women Die” act, formally known as the “Protect Life Act” surprisingly, did just make the rounds at the federal level.
The endless measures to protect life are not actually concerned about protecting life and make no secrets about it. They are first and foremost about protecting the life of the unborn no matter how such measures affect the lives of women living in this country. With all the problems facing our country, I’m pretty certain attacking and attempting to take away women’s body autonomy should really not be an issue.