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← Mississippi to vote on 'personhood'

Mississippi to vote on 'personhood' - Comments

CarolineMary's Avatar Comment 1 by CarolineMary

And then what?

Will Personhood USA help abandoned babies?

Will they help desparate pregnant teenagers, so terrified of their parents finding out that they're willing to 'DIY'?

Or will they just sit back smugly and pat themselves on the back at the lives 'saved', ignoring all the ones that are ruined.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:02:37 UTC | #886454

Jay G's Avatar Comment 2 by Jay G

I believe life begins north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:02:50 UTC | #886455

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 3 by crookedshoes

So is a miscarriage manslaughter?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:08:00 UTC | #886457

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 4 by ZenDruid

Well, a blastocyst certainly has the requisite number of neurons to be a good Mississippi pro-lifer.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:08:10 UTC | #886458

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 5 by crookedshoes

Can you prosecute a woman for smoking, drinking, and/or doing drugs during their pregnancy? What about overeating or eating foods that are bad for you? Transient gestational diabetes?????

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:14:38 UTC | #886459

achromat666's Avatar Comment 6 by achromat666

I think it was George Carlin who said:

"If you're pre-born, you're fine, if you're pre-schooled, you're fucked. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers. Pro-life, these people aren't pro-life, they're killing doctors, what kind of pro-life is that? What, they'll do everything they can do save a fetus, but if it grows up to be a doctor they just might have to kill it?"

Among the many terms they do not seem to fully grasp? Hypocrisy.

It must be a truly horrible life one leads when they're convinced they have to control whether women give life, regardless of circumstance, and to be convinced that it is something they must control over ALL women. Idiots.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:14:48 UTC | #886460

ZenDruid's Avatar Comment 7 by ZenDruid

Will they accuse for witchcraft those women who miscarry deformed fetuses?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:23:32 UTC | #886463

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 8 by SaganTheCat

what if they were told that prior to birth and therefore baptism, the foetus is an atheist?

surely they wouldn't demand "personhood" if they knew the facts?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:30:34 UTC | #886467

Slugsie's Avatar Comment 9 by Slugsie

Someone should point out that conception involves the loss of a living organism.

The egg is a living cell. The sperm is a living cell. So you have two living cells, then just one. Did something die?

There is also the matter of the millions of living sperms that definitely do die. Also, what of the eggs that definitely do die with each period?

Please, won't somebody think of the sperm. And the eggs.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:33:41 UTC | #886470

Fujikoma's Avatar Comment 10 by Fujikoma

I was just wondering how they'll deal with age related laws as they relate to drinking, driving, voting, sex, school, criminal violations (adult vs. child), pornagraphy, smoking, being financial responsible for a credit card... Will they then press for the pre-born to prevent the use of contraceptives??? They should show everyone what the conception certificate looks like and explain how they'll know the correct date to put on it. Do they hand them out at birth or as soon as someone claims to be pregnant? Are they going to track these women so if there's a miscarriage they can investigate and possibly charge them with some form of manslaughter? What if the woman crosses the state line and then re-enters? Would this reset when the fetus is considered a person?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:34:06 UTC | #886471

david k's Avatar Comment 11 by david k

Heard this this morning on radio. At first I was excited. Thought it was about not letting corporations have personhood rights of free speech.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:44:35 UTC | #886476

El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 12 by El Bastardo

I've been following Rachel Maddow's excellent coverage of this over the last few weeks, and they Republicans have been trying similar moves in a few states.

Not only does it try to ban abortion this way, but it will also ban most forms of hormone contraceptive. Most forms of the pill are out, the morning after pill is totally out, an IUD may be gone too.

Yes, crookedshoes, it would mean that a miscarriage would be grounds for a criminal investigation, though no guarantees of a prosecution or what the punishment would be.

@Daniel Clear, they don't need facts, they have god on their side.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:45:42 UTC | #886477

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 13 by drumdaddy

Being that it is Mississippi I would assume that black embryos will be counted as two thirds of a white embryo.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:03:54 UTC | #886482

SomersetJohn's Avatar Comment 14 by SomersetJohn

Comment 3 by crookedshoes :

So is a miscarriage manslaughter?

No, it's abortion by god, and if they make abortion illegal the bastard, or more practically, his representatives on earth should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the stupid law.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:27:25 UTC | #886485

dloubet's Avatar Comment 15 by dloubet

If a pregnant woman is arrested and put in jail, can the fetus sue for false imprisonment? Sounds like a case to me!

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:35:02 UTC | #886488

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 16 by crookedshoes

Somerset John, interesting point..... What if there is no god????

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:44:33 UTC | #886491

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 17 by Sean_W

It's a women's rights issue. So they're actually voting to either keep women's rights total, or to abolish a significant part of them. (Sorry for the understatement.)

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:47:46 UTC | #886492

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 18 by Jonathan Dore

Perhaps some Americans can advise us here: Roe vs Wade is a SC ruling that therefore has federal force. Wouldn't that trump a state law that attempts to rule the opposite (or that attempts, by one means or another, to have the opposite effect)?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 17:54:17 UTC | #886496

Rationem's Avatar Comment 19 by Rationem

Notice the question they ask is: when does life begin? They then say at fertilization(which is strange if you know anything about embryology) and say that at fertilization you have a person. This is what's known as the biological critique of abortion. The problem with the biological critique is that it's quite futile and is well known to be futile among bioethicists. The important question is: is a fertilized egg really a person? I'd like to re-post an old comment I made that I think is relevant. It's rather long for a post, and probably some here already know it or have previously read it, but just in case someone hasn't I think it could help. (I made an addition to the original post to minimize confusion)

I find that in the abortion debate there are some very serious questions that people do not even attempt to address, for one reason or another. Is an embryo a member of the species Homo sapiens? This is a rather simple biological question with a simple answer. A more relevant question would be if an organism is a member of a species, say Homo sapiens, is it a person simply because of it's biology? It is not entirely clear that a being is person simply because they belong to a certain species. The biologic version of the antiabortion argument explicitly assumes that a human is a person, namely, that "all innocent(obviously if it was guilty of something then you could easily make an argument in favor of abortion, however, being charitable most bioethicists assume innocence) organisms belonging to the biologically defined species, in this case Homo sapiens, without exception have a serious 'right to life.'" This version of the antiabortion argument is not taken seriously because of several fatal objections. Firstly, there are clear counterexamples to it. Second, the argument does not express a basic moral principle and needs to be extended in order to uncover the underlying basic moral principle. However, extending the argument requires bringing in some other version of the antiabortion argument(religious arguments from the soul, appeal to capacities, or appeal to potentialities attributed to Don Marquis). Since, the biological version reduces to some other version then if those other versions fail then so too does the biological version. The last objection follows directly from the second objection; namely, since the original moral principle is not basic enough then how does one derive the original moral principle in the first place? If you try to derive the original moral principle you will find that the derivation is either false, the derivation itself is unsound, or that the derivation does not in fact support the original argument that all innocent organisms that are biologically Homo sapiens, without exception, have a serious right to life.

Keeping in mind what the original argument was then you have several counterexamples that demonstrate that it's not even prima facie wrong to let certain organisms belonging to species Homo sapiens die or indeed kill. Some examples are anencephalic infants(infants with little to no neural tissue), organisms that have a functioning brain stem(+/- a functioning spinal cord) but non-functioning cerebrum, and organisms that have cerebral/brainstem/cord death. A common practice among bioethicists(say Tooley, Marquis, Mary Warren, Judith Thomson) is to sketch out a range of cases of organisms with varying degrees of personal status(ie different psychological and physical capacities). What you find is a range of individuals from a physically and psychologically normal individual on one end to an individual with a non functioning cerebrum/brainstem kept alive with life support on the other extreme. Between these 2 extremes, most(note not all) rational people draw a line between an individual who is psychologically normal(ie has a mental life) and whose brainstem is non-functional but has an "artificial brainstem"(to minimize confusion think of this as a respirator) keeping them alive, and an individual whose cerebrum is non-functioning but is alive with a functioning brainstem meaning they are permanently comatose and have no mental life. What this exercise teases out is an intuition that what makes it morally wrong to kill or let someone die has something to do with an organism's mental life.

On to the second objection, what is the basic moral principle espoused in the biological version. Well, it's pretty obvious: namely that killing an innocent organism that is a member of species Homo sapiens is without exception prima facie wrong(there are many ways to formulate the principle but this is a standard way). Now, immediately one can see that this principle is certainly not a basic moral principle, namely it deals strictly with Homo sapiens. Maybe there's a more general and hence basic moral principle involved. An easy way to derive it would be to apply the original principle in different situations and then find a more general principle that explains each situation. For example, let's consider a rose flower and derive a similar moral principle, namely, "the killing of innocent rose flowers is without exception prima facie wrong." Next, let's consider Han Solo from star wars and derive another moral principle, namely, "the killing of an innocent member of Han Solo's species is without exception prima facie wrong." Well, I think reasonable people would agree that there is something that distinguishes a rose flower from Han Solo and a human. What feature could that be? Surely, whatever answer you give must invovle at least in some measure a reference to the type of mental life that humans and Han's species apparently share. Now, we see that the consideration of other possible species suggests that we must generalize even more, that is, generalize so that our basic moral principle is free of reference to any particular species. In practice, you end up with a principle akin to "all innocent organisms that have a capacity for a kind of mental life have a right to life" or "all innocent organisms that have a capacity for a kind of mental life or the potential for a capacity, have a right to life"(the principles concerning potentials is the more difficult case and attributed to Don Marquis). Thus, the original moral principle in the biological argument in effect reduces to a moral basic more principle that you find in a capacities or potentialities version of the antiabortion argument.

The final objection follows from the second and takes a considerable amount of time. Since, it has been established that the original moral principle was not a basic moral principle then a question arises how one can even satisfactorily derive it in the first place. First, there is the religious derivation using the notion of a soul. The argument is along the lines of: all organisms that have souls that have the capacity for higher mental functions have a right to life; all humans have souls that have the capacity for higher mental functions; thus all organisms that are humans have a right to life. It's a valid argument but wholly unsound. There is no good reason for thinking that adult human beings have a soul that contains the capacity for higher mental functions. To be explicit, there is no plausible evidence for a soul being present in adult human let alone an embryo or fetus. In fact, neurological inquiry(stroke research etc) produces enormous evidence supporting the conclusion that higher mental abilities, say the ability to think, depend upon the presence of a complex and specific arrangement of neurological structures. Thus, the conclusion that higher mental abilities are based upon capacities found in the brain is highly probable as compared to the notion that they reside in a soul that should, if one thinks about it, not be impaired by any damage to the brain. Secondly, there is the capacities derivation which is also valid but unsound. The argument is something like: all organisms that have the capacity for higher mental functions have a right to life; all humans have this capacity for higher functioning; thus all organisms that are humans have a right to life. Here too, we have strong evidence from stroke research/accidents and embryology that higher mental abilities are dependent on a complex arrangement of neural structures from the former and from the latter that neural structures like a brain occur much later in development. The presence of neural crest cells or neuroectoderm or a primitive neural tube is not the same thing as a brain that can "think" or have higher mental abilities. So, the capacities version is unsound for the simple reason that organisms do not have relevant mental capacities at all times. The potentialities derivation takes the most time to parse fully, but given the length of the post, I"ll just point out a few quick flaws. The derivation is valid(simply replace capacities with potential for capacities) but also unsound. If we recall the counterexamples from the first objection then if anencephalics or any organism that has a non-functioning cerebrum/brainstem then they by definition do not have the potential for the capacity of higher mental functions. Another flaw is that potentiality does not, in and of itself, entail "rights to life" but instead entails the value of an entity. However, the value of a embryo is not the same as the value attributed to an adult.

Finally let me just add that this argument against the biological critique is not novel. It's fairly well known, and would behoove anyone who is against abortion and who espouses a biological approach to personhood to at least attempt to respond to. Indeed, bioethicists like Don Marquis usually concede the futility of the biological approach and prefer the potentialities approach. However, if you're interested you can find that there are quite devastating flaws in that approach too.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 18:00:31 UTC | #886499

btheist's Avatar Comment 20 by btheist

Debating whether personhood should be bestowed at the point of conception is useless and futile. the point is moot without religion, hence it is the validity of their religious views that should be debated rather than wasting time with this nonsense.

Let me start.... Dear Religious People (you know who you are)... you have been deceived! Everything you've been told about your religion and the beliefs inherent there in are the result of mass deception. Some of it is deliberate and some of it the result of self-replicating self-deception handed down by your ancestors, but no matter the source of your information, accept that it is all a deception. Once you've accepted that, you will be on the true road to personhood.

PS: Don't shoot the messenger, I'm not the one deceiving you!

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 18:01:45 UTC | #886500

wrongwatch's Avatar Comment 21 by wrongwatch

doesn't life begin at Wal-Mart?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 18:09:27 UTC | #886505

wrongwatch's Avatar Comment 22 by wrongwatch

doesn't life begin at Wal-Mart?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 18:10:37 UTC | #886506

PastaPirate's Avatar Comment 23 by PastaPirate

Does that mean that people can drink in Mississippi at 20.25 years, since they became an official person roughly 9 months before birth?

What if a 7 month old fetus has just had enough of that constricting womb and wants out ASAP? Since they're a separate legal person, shouldn't we establish a department of fetal affairs to keep in constant contact with all fetuses (fetii?) to ensure that their wishes constantly trump post-born adult women?

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 18:24:34 UTC | #886512

kaiserkriss's Avatar Comment 24 by kaiserkriss

This might have already been touched on, but is the State now going to prosecute women for the innumerable spontaneous abortions that occur naturally? Another poorly though out position. jcw

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 18:34:48 UTC | #886516

alaskansee's Avatar Comment 25 by alaskansee

It's worse than all of the above, it also criminalizes women taking certain kinds of birth control too. The type that allows an egg to be fertilized but not to "stick" in the womb.

Note, spelling adjusted for American readers.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 18:50:02 UTC | #886520

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 26 by Agrajag

Comment 16 by crookedshoes

Somerset John, interesting point..... What if there is no god????

Well, then it would just be nature taking its course.
So, it's just nature taking its course. :-)

I know a little about this, as my wife and I would have five children instead of two except for the meddling of the celestial abortionist. ;-)

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 19:03:30 UTC | #886525

drgoode's Avatar Comment 27 by drgoode

Hitchens on the concept of the unborn as a candidate member of society.


Wed, 02 Nov 2011 19:03:43 UTC | #886526

SheerReason's Avatar Comment 28 by SheerReason

Let us not forget that this is the state in which a recent poll among Mississippi residents which asked if interracial marriage should be legal, sadly had a majority of people vote that interracial marriage should not be legal.

PDF listing poll results by a North Carolina based polling angency

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 19:35:21 UTC | #886537

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 29 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 19:53:16 UTC | #886544

Red Dog's Avatar Comment 30 by Red Dog

I know there are a few Libertarians who comment here once in a while. I'm just curios wouldn't you agree its an outrageous contradiction that the actual Libertarians in the US congress, people like Rand and Ron Paul support efforts like this? Talk about the ultimate in intrusive big government, getting between a woman and her doctor seems about as intrusive as you can get.

Wed, 02 Nov 2011 20:01:49 UTC | #886548