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Life, Death, and Law in Mississippi
Townhall.com ^ | November 12, 2011 | Kathryn Lopez

Posted on 11/12/2011 8:54:16 AM PST by Kaslin

The morning after this month's relatively quiet (for most of us) Election Day, story after story arrived celebrating a pro-life defeat.

"Mississippi Wins for Women!" The Daily Beast exclaimed. "Birth Control Remains Legal: Mississippi Voters Reject Draconian 'Personhood' Initiative," the National Organization for Women declared. "Our victory in Mississippi has already sent a strong message to extremists who will stop at nothing to outlaw abortion," the American Civil Liberties Union explained.

Mississippi's personhood amendment, seeking to amend the state constitution's legal definition of a "person" to "include every human being from the moment of fertilization," lost at the ballot box. It's the most peculiar of pro-choice celebrations, though, when you consider that pro-life voters played an integral role in its defeat.

It was, in fact, a defeat welcomed by many reliable pro-life activists around the country, concerned, among other things, that it would invite a Supreme Court double-down on Roe v. Wade almost 40 years after the landmark decision that created a right to privacy and codified a cultural revolution.

The personhood campaign is no unanimous pro-life strategy. But the framing of it as such by its opponents certainly was.

On one side, as Leonard J. Nelson III, a law professor and author of "Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Health Care," explains, "It was promoted by Southern Baptists in Mississippi and other evangelicals. But the Catholic bishop in Jackson refused to back it," as did a host of other religious leaders. "It was an oversimplified and sweeping approach to an issue that is more complicated than that for even many pro-life voters."

In other words, it's much more complex than the black-and-white portrayal of "pro-choice wins and pro-life loses!" In fact, it wouldn't be strange to call the initiative's defeat a pro-life victory. But even that wouldn't do full justice to the issue. Our political culture is such that deep discussions don't always happen, and sometimes aren't even welcome. If we did dig a bit deeper into the mysteries of human life, we might realize that we have a lot of middle ground to work on, to save lives and improve lives, to give hope and aid to those who need it.

As supporters of the initiative were accused yet again of waging a war on contraception, it could be argued that the real force intent on control in such matters actually consists of the liberal sisterhood with megaphones, and the current presidential administration. Wielding under-the-radar regulatory directives, the pro-choice brigade can be quite productive. Take, for instance, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, suing on behalf of Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina because of recent government regulations that would force the religious educational institution to cover contraceptives, sterilization and forms of abortion in its employee health-insurance plans.

Beyond political and legal strategy, Christopher Tollefsen, co-author of "Embryo" observes: "This amendment was about whether every human being, including the youngest, deserved full moral and legal protection, a condition that could be called 'personhood.' If it moves debate in that direction, I think it was valuable."

So what exactly is a person, anyway? We have answers, whether we always acknowledge them or not. Scientifically. Biologically. Emotionally. A veil was lifted on an infamously unconstructive debate when sonograms became commonplace in the lives of pregnant women. It's why activists work to help crisis-pregnancy centers raise money for more such windows into the womb. It's why having conversations about who and what we value must be had out in the open, with a little less demonization and more debate about related choices we make, from the most intimate to the financial and yes, political.

I agree with those who say women won a victory in Mississippi. Because, somewhere, beyond misleading victory gongs, there's a little more honesty about humans and human rights. A little victory in defeat.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: Mississippi
KEYWORDS: liberty; life; personhood; rights

1 posted on 11/12/2011 8:54:18 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

This is not an issue of the brain, but rather, an issue of the heart. NOW and the ACLU don’t defend abortion because they’re concerned about women’s rights. Face it, there are more women aborted in this world than men. They support abortion because of fear. They’re afraid that they, and their offspring, will somehow suffer because there are/will-be too many people in this world. Try having a logical discussion with a cat who’s scared to death of a dog. You can lay out a logical list of points, but the cat isn’t listening and will scratch you to try and get away. The way to stop abortion is to point out how the world seems to be doing OK with all the people we have. For all the problems, and I don’t mean to take them lightly, we don’t have mass starvation. We don’t have mass muder to reduce the number of mouths to feed. We don’t need to kill the introuterine people to save the extrouterine people. If they are for abortion because they want fewer people at their vacation spots and less traffic, well, advocating killing for a more luxurious lifestyle is inhuman. They have forfeited their right to take part in the discussion on human life. We have to lovingly show them that their fears are groundless. We can feed and provide a good standard of living to more people. We don’t need to kill the introuterine people. They are us. They are not the enemy. It’s OK to cry about how wrong they have been. We don’t hate you. We have compassion for your hardened hearts and your fear. We also cry for, and have compassion for, the introuterine people who are needlessly killed. There is room for all.


2 posted on 11/12/2011 9:30:12 AM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: Kaslin
Great article!

"So what exactly is a person, anyway? We have answers, whether we always acknowledge them or not. Scientifically. Biologically. Emotionally. A veil was lifted on an infamously unconstructive debate when sonograms became commonplace in the lives of pregnant women. It's why activists work to help crisis-pregnancy centers raise money for more such windows into the womb. It's why having conversations about who and what we value must be had out in the open, with a little less demonization and more debate about related choices we make, from the most intimate to the financial and yes, political."

An ancient wisdom book, written centuries before the possibility of sonograms and cameras in the womb, expressed the idea of so-called "personhood," the latest semantic effort to define the value of a life in the womb.

Excerpts from Psalm 139,(New Living Translation):

"You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!
I can never escape from your spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night-- but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are both alike to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous--and how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!
They are innumerable!
18 I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!"

In America, in the Year 1776 A. D., a Declaration of Independence outlined what would become the philosophical basis for a new form of constitutional self-government to protect life and liberty for individuals. That Declaration asserted:

"All men are . . . . endowed by their Creator," a revolutionary concept which changed the world.

Thomas Jefferson stated that the idea of the Declaration reflected the "American mind" of 1776. He capsulized their idea in these words:

"The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time: the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them."

Perhaps current "conversations" and "debate" might include this question:

Do recent scientific discoveries and technologies tend to confirm or to deny the assertions of Psalm 139 and our ancestors' Declaration of 1776?

3 posted on 11/12/2011 10:20:43 AM PST by loveliberty2
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To: loveliberty2

I live here and I voted for PERSONHOOD.


4 posted on 11/12/2011 4:15:23 PM PST by onyx (PLEASE SUPPORT FREE REPUBLIC BY DONATING NOW! Sarah's New Ping List - tell me if you want on it.)
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To: onyx
God bless you and all the others who translated the words of Psalm 139 into meaning for today in America. "Personhood" seems to sum up the psalmist's words as he acknowledged the Creator's role in his formation in the womb:

"Darkness and light are both alike to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--and how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!"

5 posted on 11/12/2011 4:50:38 PM PST by loveliberty2
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