Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Welcome to America: Land of the Free (unless you're pregnant)

That fine print can be a killer, huh?

Apparently, after every SINGLE 'Personhood' amendment failed last November, some asshole in Ohio decided to ramp this vaguely worded rhetoric back up.

Now, I'm in Mississippi, I believe I've mentioned, one of the states that Personhood USA tried this schtick with this past fall. Proposition 26, they called it. Vote for Life was one of their favorite slogans... For life, but against personal freedoms. Not that it would have much mattered if it had passed, as the state constitution forbids any law that forces one person to serve another... and isn't that the very definition of forcing a woman to carry a child she doesn't want/never intended on keeping? Anyone who's ever been pregnant will tell you, 'I'm eating for two' or 'I have to take care of myself, for the baby'... Sure sounds like servitude to me.

On the one side, you have some fundamentalist wing-nuts who are so hopped up on their 'Right to Life' bullshit that one half expects them to break into Monty Python's 'Every Sperm is Sacred' (it's medical experiments for the lot of ya). What they're trying to do is add an amendment to the state constitution (of pretty much any state) which just says:

(A) The words "person" in Article 1, Section 16, and "men" in Article 1, Section 1, apply to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.
(B) Nothing in this Section shall affect genuine contraception that acts solely by preventing the creation of a new human being; or human "eggs" or oocytes prior to the beginning of the life of a new human being; or reproductive technology or In Vitro Fertilization procedures that respect the right to life of newly created human beings.
Which, while being a good deal less vague than November's Personhood amendment language (pretty much leaving out all of the (b) section above), is still an end-run around Roe v. Wade, as well as most states' existing bill of rights. Usually something takes precedence over these kinds of trivial after-thoughts. IE: You can't add X if it disagrees with or contradicts A-J. Standard procedure for every level of the legislative process, from municipal to federal. The problem is, this means that if a woman becomes pregnant as a result of events beyond her control, she has no choice but to carry that child to term, and while the Pro side will regale the public with anecdotal evidence in support of the 'blessing' that this 'miracle' child was to their (friend/mother/sister/cousin/niece/aunt/etc) the reasoning falls apart. None will ever directly answer the question 'How is taking away the rights of one person in any way Constitutional?' Notice also that the language of this amendment doesn't include anything respecting accidental miscarriages, which would become the equivalent of manslaughter, if these kinds of ridiculous propositions manage to pass. We only have the word of supporters that this would not be the case. All it would take is one angry (ex) husband or boyfriend going to a lawyer and forcing the police to enforce the law as written.

The other side will tell you how this change will give rapists control over the reproductive rights of women, and will make birth control illegal, while cutting off access to fertility clinics (which do also perform abortions in many cases) and vilifying IVF doctors. While there is some alarmist rhetoric in the Con argument, for the most part it's merely a slight exaggeration of the truth.

In my opinion, I prefer to find a comfortable middle ground (yes, even in the abortion debate there's plenty of grey area) between these two extreme interpretations of the amendment. My first problem with it has nothing to do with babies or the reproductive process at all. I'm against this law because it flies in the face of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was carefully worded to PREVENT misapplication and misinterpretation. It also smacks of unconstitutional application of the legislative process. The organization spearheading these state level amendments has, time and again, been shut out by a strong majority, even in conservative (largely pro-life) states. Rather than taking a 55%-60%+, and rather resounding, NO! from the voters though, they are wading in again to try and circumvent popular opinion by trying to lobby for the change in the state senate and congress. The representatives there would do well to listen to the voters who have already spoken, and choose NOT to take action that would be contrary to the documented will of the populace.

Do I disagree with abortion? In principle, yes and I swear never to go and get one... I'll wait while that one sinks in. In practice, however, my opinion cannot be applied to the majority. When speaking in constitutional terms, amendments being made there are applied to every person, equally. I cannot, in good consciousness, vote for an amendment that would sacrifice the rights of others, simply so that I feel better. I cannot force my will on another person, and amendments of this type do exactly that. This is a choice left to a woman and her morality. Even the father, prior to birth, has no control over this decision... which is the way it ought to be, because if the pregnancy carries to term then that father can have already left the state and might never have to take any responsibility, while the mother (at the time of birth) has endured ~9 months of pain and discomfort that NO one else can suffer in her place.

In fact, think about the result of being FORCED to carry a child to term and either A) raise it, or B) give the child up for adoption. How might that child suffer as a result? How might it benefit? The mother in these cases (often enough to have statistics to back it up) is usually unprepared, under (or un) employed, so we're asking the American public to help foot the bill for the pre-natal care and post-birth care, WIC, Food Stamps, school lunch programs, etc. As a result, the child often ends up having fewer opportunities to grow (socially/mentally). As to the benefit... it will be alive, but what kind of life will it lead? Will a boy in this situation end up causing yet more unwanted pregnancies? Will a female child end up HAVING an unwanted pregnancy?

The fact is, most women who end up getting abortions tend to be from the lower end of the socio-economic curve. Children born to these women, historically speaking, tend to perpetuate the worst stereotypes of the lower class demographic, especially if they are single mothers.


  1. I think reading your entries will soon be the hgihlight of my otherwise boring day. While this prop was being introduced and voted on I fought against it due to the fact that it violated constitutional rights, even before conception. A woman would have to be forced to become pregnant because birth control could possibly be banned. I agree, does our economy have the resources to be strained by unwanted children because someone felt that his morals should be forced on every other human in this country? I am glad that this did not pass mainly becuase it would have opened the door for others to force their beliefs on people. I really feel that even if it had passed it would have been thrown out in Supreme Court, mainly because it is a violation of rights.
    But really, do we actually have complete freedom and rights? Not really. We are free to live our lives the way we want to within the guidelines that the government has set out for us. To me that really isn't much freedom. I can't live my life the way I want to because the government wants me to work and pay them until I am too old to enjoy my life anymore...that's not living free to me.
    But thank you, I am finally glad to see someone has the nerve to say it. It may be opinion but it is also fact. Too bad more people don't get it!

  2. First, I'm at least happy to see that wording in the new proposition includes basic language relating to birth control. It's still a strawman, but at least they're not inflexible.

    Second, I don't really see any 'force', just a lack of options, which equates to a lack of freedom.

    Finally, I'd disagree that we are without freedom. We have guidelines, as any society must, for acceptable behavior, but we are not required to work. If we work, we're required to contribute taxes to sustain the system of government and the benefits that we all enjoy. You have the freedom, and many people make this choice, to not work, not make a monetary wage, and thus not pay those taxes. You're not on the roles anywhere as a mandatory tax payer, unless you've earned more than $500 as reported to the IRS.