High Programmer > Alan De Smet > Rants > Corrected "Yes on 26" FAQ

Corrected "Yes on 26" FAQ

Mississippi has has an upcoming ballot measure to amend their constitution to define "person" as including "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." Polls suggest it is likely to pass. It may have support because people are being misled by the YESon26 group.

Here is YESon26's FAQ. (Backup link 1. Backup link 2.) There are some... mistakes, so I thought I'd correct them.

Will Personhood outlaw contraceptives?

Yes! RU486 and some forms of the "Pill" will be outlawed.

The text is correct, exclude for the big bold "NO!". They flat out admit that RU486 and some forms of the "Pill" will be banned.

Will Personhood end in-vitro fertilization, which helps couples who want to become pregnant?

No, but it will likely become harder and more expensive. In-vitro fertilization clinics will face the requirement of store fertilized eggs forever. They will raise prices to cover this requirement. They will fertilize fewer eggs to minimize their future costs, making the procedure less effective.

Will personhood prevent a doctor from saving the life of a mother with a problem pregnancy?

Yes! Women with high risk pregnancies will not be able to abort them earlier, when it is much safer. Instead, medical intervention will be delayed until it is determined that the fetus is "unviable," which may be much later and at which point saving the mother will be much more difficult. Some women will die as a result.

The entire movement is founded on a dubious reading of the Roe v Wade decision. The decision does note that if a fetus is a person, then the fetus's right to life is protected. Personhood was not considered reasonable given that every state had exceptions, at the very least to protect the life of the mother. Under the personhood doctrine, abortion is never acceptable, even to save the life of the mother as killing one peaceful person to save another remains murder. Given that, a life-saving abortion cannot be provided until the fetus is "unviable."

Will Personhood result in the criminal prosecution of a woman who suffers a miscarriages?

Yes! A woman who suffers a miscarriage might be charged with reckless endangerment, manslaughter, or even murder. A pregnant or potentially pregnant woman in Mississippi must treat her body as a child or risk such charges if she miscarries.

A Mississippi woman has already been charged with murder. The claim women were not prosecuted for miscarriages before Roe v. Wade is irrelevant as the entire point of this amendment is to create a situation that wasn't true before Roe V. Wade. Prior to Roe v. Wade a fetus was not legally recognized as a person.

Will Personhood end abortion and cloning in Mississippi?

No! At least not until the Supreme Court hears the inevitable lawsuit that will follow. Roe v Wade is quite clear that states cannot entirely ban abortion.

In Roe v Wade the Supreme Court addressed the question of personhood and rejected it. Roe v Wade did suggest that a case could be made for personhood, but it's nonsense to believe that the Supreme Court will decide that fetuses are people in Mississippi but not the rest of the country.

I pass on an opinion ending cloning.

A: No, not under current court ruling. Roe v Wade is pretty clear on the matter. To end abortion, the state will need to fight an expensive legal battle all the way up to the Supreme Court, then convince the Supreme Court to overturn a previous Supreme Court ruling. Whatever happens in such a legal fight, the idea that fetuses count as people in Mississippi but not in other states is nonsense.

Will a rape or incest victim be force to give birth to the rapist's child?

Yes! A woman impregnated during a rape loses many of their rights during the pregnancy.

I notice that in the original FAQ they suddenly stopped having clear YES and NO answers, so I helped rewrite the question to do so.

Will Personhood increase health care costs in Mississippi?

Yes! Compared to bearing a child, the occasional expenses of problem pregnancies, and medical coverage for children of a poor woman, abortion is much less expensive.

Furthermore, more women will face high risk and expensive procedures to try and save their lives during a high risk pregnancy where an earlier, safer, less expensive abortion was a choice before. Doctors, now at risk for charges of manslaughter and murder if they misjudge the viability of a fetus, will order yet more tests and more expensive preventative measures to limit their risk.

The answer is dodges the clear and obvious answer. It also ignores the additional costs in education as well as welfare for children of poor women.

Doesn't the Personhood ballot language leave unanswered questions?

Yes! When is a fetus deemed unviable and thus a doctor can use an abortion to save a woman's life without risked murder charges himself? What level of risk can a woman take with her own body before she risks reckless endangerment or manslaughter changes herself? Does drinking alcohol during pregnancy count as child abuse? If a pregnant woman attempts suicide but fails, will she be charged with attempted murder?

The case where the lives of two people are so directly intertwined is currently exceptionally rare. Now it will become commonplace. It's even more complicated because one of the two people is a child and thus has more protections while the other is the parent and thus has more obligations.

Will the Mississippi Personhood Amendment overturn Roe v. Wade?

No! First an expensive legal battle will follow that must end up before the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court needs to agree with the Amendment's assumptions.

They are honest, if misleading, here, but I was a bit sad to see a lack of a big "NO" at the start.

Will Personhood take away a woman's "Right to Choose"?


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