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← Mississippi's "Personhood Amendment" fails at polls

Mississippi's "Personhood Amendment" fails at polls - Comments

S. Gudmundsson's Avatar Comment 1 by S. Gudmundsson

Apparently, governments and big business aren't working fast enough to take away our freedoms for some people.

I'm glad people had the sense to can this proposed amendment, at any rate.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 06:47:59 UTC | #888841

Virgin Mary's Avatar Comment 2 by Virgin Mary

You should be able to abort up to voting age.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 07:06:40 UTC | #888846

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 3 by susanlatimer

As hollow as it is, it's some kind of victory.

Way to go, Mississippi. That's pretty good for you guys.

(Apologies to all the people from Mississippi who didn't just vote against this because of the implications for in vitro fertilization. I know you exist.)

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 07:17:31 UTC | #888848

alf1200's Avatar Comment 4 by alf1200

Human embryos are no more human than the dozen eggs in your refrigerator are chickens. You may quote me. (just don't flatter me)

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 07:20:33 UTC | #888849

Virgin Mary's Avatar Comment 5 by Virgin Mary

Apart from that they're talking about fertilized eggs which could become human whereas the eggs in your fridge will never become chickens.

Anyone know when the CNS develops?

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 07:26:34 UTC | #888852

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 6 by Jos Gibbons

If such a voter decision can happen in Mississippi, there's hope for every US state. Sure, we could moan about how a quarter of people still voted the wrong way, but as long as they get defeated in the votes the politics will be OK.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 09:09:15 UTC | #888868

Tyrosine's Avatar Comment 7 by Tyrosine

Comment 5 by tmaxwell83 :

Apart from that they're talking about fertilized eggs which could become human whereas the eggs in your fridge will never become chickens.

Anyone know when the CNS develops?

A lot of organic or freerange eggs have been fertilised. If you crack them open sometimes you may find a white 'string' in what becomes the egg white. The CNS starts developing very quickly, and I think by about 4 weeks the brain stem has appeared. Of course, the components are all highly immature, and the extent to which you can call it a CNS at that point is highly debatable. Perhaps there's someone else here who knows more about it.

In any case, I'm glad this has been defeated in Mississippi--it would have been a step backwards.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 09:31:02 UTC | #888872

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 8 by Functional Atheist

Republican Party rhetoric about limited government is riddled with hypocritical exceptions. This case is a fine example, where they are eager to stuff as much big, powerful and intrusive government up as many vaginas as possible.

Remember: every sperm is sacred. The sock on your adolescent's floor that is strangely crusty represents a genocide of potential persons.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 09:33:23 UTC | #888873

drumdaddy's Avatar Comment 9 by drumdaddy

What fertilized eggs? I was nowhere near Mississippi.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 09:44:00 UTC | #888875

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 10 by Ivan The Not So Bad

Someone will be very disappointed by this. See the letters section in the Economist this week:

SIR – I was delighted to read your article about the effort in Mississippi to pass a state constitutional amendment to recognise embryos as people from the moment of fertilisation (“A person already?”, October 8th). My wife and I have been considering IVF to address our lack of success in conceiving a child. Mississippi’s proposed amendment gives us even more reason to pursue this treatment, and to move to Mississippi.

After the procedure we will insist on taking custody of any extra embryos that result from IVF—it is our right as parents after all. Once safely in our home we plan to keep them in a freezer in our basement and list them as child dependents for tax purposes, thus giving us a tax deduction. To protect the lives of our children in case of a power outage we will buy a backup generator. Anything less would be bad parenting.

Benjamin Iwai St Louis, Missouri

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 09:45:43 UTC | #888878

Graxan's Avatar Comment 11 by Graxan

This raises a number of questions, but I'd argue that life is nothing without memory. Unless you have a living mental history of your experiences what are you? An animal-like creature with no goals other than instinctual needs? Look at the worst cases of memory degradation in altzeimer's patients.
What about the very young who are arguably not self-aware. I don't remember much before the age of 5 years old, if anything. It's almost like my life started at that age, anybody else feel this way?

Therefore, even a newborn baby isn't of much relevance in this context. This leads us then to talk about potential of life. Where does the potential for a relevant human life start? At conception? At the foetus stage? In your father, grandfather or an ancient homo-sapiens anscestor whose genes you have inherited?

This campaign all seems a nonsense to me with obvious religious undertones. The people backing this notion obviously have no concept of the science behind the process of the formation a living being and are valuing life at an arbitrary stage.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 10:18:12 UTC | #888887

Virgin Mary's Avatar Comment 12 by Virgin Mary

Comment 10 by Ivan The Not So Bad :

Someone will be very disappointed by this. See the letters section in the Economist this week:

SIR – I was delighted to read your article about the effort in Mississippi to pass a state constitutional amendment to recognise embryos as people from the moment of fertilisation (“A person already?”, October 8th). My wife and I have been considering IVF to address our lack of success in conceiving a child. Mississippi’s proposed amendment gives us even more reason to pursue this treatment, and to move to Mississippi.

After the procedure we will insist on taking custody of any extra embryos that result from IVF—it is our right as parents after all. Once safely in our home we plan to keep them in a freezer in our basement and list them as child dependents for tax purposes, thus giving us a tax deduction. To protect the lives of our children in case of a power outage we will buy a backup generator. Anything less would be bad parenting.

Benjamin Iwai St Louis, Missouri

Shit myself laughing, that's brilliant!

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 10:45:51 UTC | #888891

Virgin Mary's Avatar Comment 13 by Virgin Mary

Comment 7 by Tyrosine

They shouldn't be! Just because they are free range or organic doesn't mean that the hens have come into contact with a cock! Any wholesaler should be pretty paranoid about that because any little incident involving a customer cracking open their egg and a foetus falling out would be very bad news!!!

I looked at chicken eggs in high school biology. The white bit that you sometimes see holds the yolk in place, or something like that.

I'd like to know more about that. At what point can a foetus feel? That might be a good time to start debating whether or not it is a person.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 10:58:50 UTC | #888894

Virgin Mary's Avatar Comment 14 by Virgin Mary

Comment Removed by Author

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 11:00:19 UTC | #888895

Southpaw's Avatar Comment 15 by Southpaw

I looked at chicken eggs in high school biology. The white bit that you sometimes see holds the yolk in place, or something like that.

Yes, it's called the chalaza and is nothing to do with the egg being fertilised.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 11:22:41 UTC | #888901

Tyrosine's Avatar Comment 16 by Tyrosine

Oh dear. It seems I was misinformed by somebody. Thank you for enlightening me anyway :)

I'd edit it out of my previous comment, but you can't edit your comments after a certain period of time on here?

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 11:24:57 UTC | #888902

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 17 by Zeuglodon

Whoa, and I thought that apartheid court analogy in Dawkins' Gaps of the Mind essay was too far out to be realistic. A costly court decision to determine who qualifies as a "person". I am astounded at the fact that it happened at all.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 12:23:23 UTC | #888921

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 18 by Jonathan Dore

What a pleasant surprise. Congratulations to the good folk of Mississippi.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 12:33:11 UTC | #888924

KenChimp's Avatar Comment 19 by KenChimp

Thank reason that reason still seems to exist among the People of Mississippi, in spite of Big Religion, Big Business and Big Government cronies and their ridiculous and tyrannical policies.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 12:33:54 UTC | #888925

sanban's Avatar Comment 20 by sanban

Don't worry, as many as 15 states are contemplating "Personhood" referenda for 2012 election, when larger turnouts are expected (only party faithful vote in interim elections).

@tmaxwell83: I happen to know the farm I used to buy eggs from had lots of roosters running around with their hens. But there is no chance of a consumer finding a fetus as the (probably fertilised) eggs are collected the same day they're laid and refrigerated thereafter.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 13:17:43 UTC | #888938

some asshole's Avatar Comment 21 by some asshole

Following the (il)logic that "life begins at fertilization", couldn't you argue that life begins when carbon atoms are churned out in the cores of stars?

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 14:10:29 UTC | #888952

The Plc's Avatar Comment 22 by The Plc

How stupid, everyone already knows that rights of personhood only belong to big corporations.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 14:31:31 UTC | #888964

Chris Langstaff's Avatar Comment 23 by Chris Langstaff

Comment 21 by some asshole :

Following the (il)logic that "life begins at fertilization", couldn't you argue that life begins when carbon atoms are churned out in the cores of stars?

I've noted this in another abortion thread, but it bears repeating. This is a Dawkins website, the guy who popularized gene-centric view of life. So thinking that human life starts when a unique set of DNA is formed by recombination seems logical to me. That doesn't mean ALL uniquely conceived individuals will survive to be born, etc. However it seems to me that many atheists ignore or rail against this fact because it jives with the outcome that nut-bar theists want.

I must say I'm shocked that Mississippi of all places would vote this down. Here's to breaking down preconceived notions!

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 16:41:29 UTC | #888997

Universeman's Avatar Comment 24 by Universeman

Actually one could argue that life began at the moment of the big bang :p We are what hydrogen atoms do given 15 billion years of cosmic evolution after all (Carl Sagan said so, so it must be true)

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 16:42:14 UTC | #888998

Rosbif's Avatar Comment 25 by Rosbif

I remember reading somewhere (I think in one of RD's books) that 50% of fertilized eggs are naturally aborted. Would that mean there would be a legal case against god if this bill had been passed?

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:20:18 UTC | #889010

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 26 by Tyler Durden

Comment 5 by tmaxwell83 :

Anyone know when the CNS develops?

CNS (brain and spinal cord) starts to develop at approx 6 weeks in humans.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:23:38 UTC | #889013

Rosbif's Avatar Comment 27 by Rosbif

... they also believe in life after death .... so can we claim benefits for looking after "old" relatives?

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:26:51 UTC | #889016

jez999's Avatar Comment 28 by jez999

Comment 21 by some asshole :

Following the (il)logic that "life begins at fertilization", couldn't you argue that life begins when carbon atoms are churned out in the cores of stars?

No, because the Big Bang created the stars themselves, so life began at the Big Bang.

But then God created the Big Bang, and he exists eternally, so life exists eternally, so...

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:35:15 UTC | #889019

Zeuglodon's Avatar Comment 29 by Zeuglodon

Comment 23 by Chris Langstaff

Not really. It's true that genomes are unique to each individual human and are responsible for building the body, but the 'life' of a human is probably related to the central nervous system, given how neural correlates work. So it would be more appropriate to focus on central nervous systems.

Even then, it's questionable whether we should value a fetus' life more than, say, that of an ordinary adult's. I suspect that the argument that fetus' can grow into a human has a problem. Can someone criticise my argument below? I want to see how well it holds up.

If a human fetus is valued for being capable of growing into a human (as opposed to, say, a salmon, which isn't capable of doing this but which may be more neurologically complicated than the fetus), then this is like saying that a dime put into a bank account is valuable because it can, through interest, become a dollar in the future. This means that more value lies in being an adult human or in having a dollar than in the dime or the fetus. So a dollar now is more valuable than a potential dollar in the future, because a dollar now can actually be enjoyed, and withdrawing the dime should be done in favour of putting in a dollar.

Thus, since some people are adults now, in cases where the needs of an adult conflict with the needs of a fetus (e.g. the mother is in poverty or will die if it isn't aborted), the adult's needs should take precedent, and abortion is acceptable under at least these conditions. The other problem is that, if we accept that "potential to produce a human being" is valid, then logically that means we could be vilified for refusing all opportunities for copulation, for not acting when a fetus spontaneously aborts, and for letting millions of other gametes die away every day.

I can't see anything wrong with my argument yet, but I'm probably missing something. Can anyone see something wrong with it?

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 18:02:48 UTC | #889027

sanban's Avatar Comment 30 by sanban

This is a Dawkins website, the guy who popularized gene-centric view of life. So thinking that human life starts when a unique set of DNA is formed by recombination seems logical to me.

So a cancerous tumour is "human life," too? Of course, it is, but that doesn't mean it's a human being/person. Is a chimera two persons, and a twin half a person? Does gene therapy create a new person within/replacing the person undergoing the treatment? Can an embryo be prosecuted for assault or murder? Where would a convicted embryo serve its sentence?

That doesn't mean ALL uniquely conceived individuals will survive to be born, etc.

Do these spontaneous abortions need to be investigated as homicides, suicides or accidents? Is defense of self or others (against the "person" of the embryo) a reasonable case for abortion?

However it seems to me that many atheists ignore or rail against this fact because it jives with the outcome that nut-bar theists want.

We "rail" against it because it doesn't jibe with reason.

Wed, 09 Nov 2011 18:08:11 UTC | #889029