Mississippians vote on whether a zygote is a person

From CNN News comes this bizarre event: Mississippi will hold a referendum to determine whether voters think that “personhood” begins with conception.

 Voters in Mississippi will be given a chance to decide whether life begins at conception, a controversial abortion-related ballot initiative that the state’s highest court has refused to block.

The Mississippi Supreme Court late Thursday allowed Measure 26, also known as the Personhood Amendment, to appear on the state ballot November 8. The decision was a rejection of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and abortion-rights groups.

The 7-2 ruling said those groups had not met the legal burden required to restrict the right of citizens to amend the state constitution. . .

. . . Anti-abortion forces hope the amendment, if passed, would ultimately be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, providing another opportunity for the justices to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Here’s a screenshot of the proposed state constitutional amendment from an anti-abortion site:

I recognize that for many abortion is not a clear-cut issue, and there is controversy about the stage at which aborting a fetus should be considered illegal or immoral. Some, like Peter Singer, even think that some euthanasia of severely afflicted or doomed newborns might be permitted, and I can see the validity of that view as well.

At any rate, according to a 2006 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, only 1.5% of abortions in America involve fetuses older than 21 weeks, the age at which the fetus is usually considered viable, 3.8% occur between 16 and 20 weeks, and fully 61.8% occur at less than nine weeks.  And since I grew up in the sixties and seventies, when there was lots of sex and drug-induced coupling, ergo many abortions, I know that women don’t take the procedure lightly, and hardly regard it (as many religious people seem to do) as a form of birth control.

Clearly, an 100-cell blastocyst does not have any feelings or thoughts (much less a soul), and to deem that ball of cells equivalent to an adult human being elides some very serious differences involving sentience. A blastocyst is no more what we think of as a “person” than an acorn is the same thing as an oak tree.  And this doesn’t even take into consideration the widespread view that abortion is a private matter involving the wishes of the parents, the fact that women will seek out abortions whether or not they’re illegal (thousands of Irish women, for example, fly to England every year for abortions), and the possibility that the production of unwanted children may be bad for both those children and society.

Further, if a fetus at any state is deemed a “person,” then abortion becomes equivalent to murder.

Now there are nonreligious objections to abortion, but clearly much of this “personhood” kerfuffle derives from religion and its attendant concept of a soul.  That of course is why these initiatives often originate in conservative areas of the U.S., and why nonreligious countries, like those in Western Europe, allow legal abortions. In the largely Catholic Republic of Ireland, abortion is totally illegal unless a birth would endanger the life of the mother.

It seems to me that although America is a democracy, it’s dicey to leave the definition of “personhood” up to the voters rather than the judiciary (but please, not this Supreme Court!).  Please weigh in below with your thoughts on the issue, especially if you’re a woman, the sex on whom the onus for abortion falls most often.


h/t: Diane G

231 Comments

  1. Posted September 10, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    What does this law mean for a miscarriage??

    Will women who have miscarriages be prosecuted for murder?? Doing something that causes a miscarriage can be prosecuted for depraved indifference to life.

    Pregnant women who smoke or drink can be prosecuted for endangering the life of a minor —- can’t get much more minor than a prebirth child.

    I’m old enough to remember before it was legal. We going to go through that again??

    Vivian

  2. Elf Eye
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    If I were working in the field of assisted reproduction, I would get the heck out of Mississippi. According to this amendment, a fertilized egg is a person. Would a technician who discards an unimplanted embryo face a murder investigation? Heck, if I were a pregnant woman, I’d flee Mississippi, too. Wouldn’t want to miscarry and face an investigation.

    • Tulse
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

      Yes, I presume this would effectively make IVF, as currently practiced, illegal in Mississippi.

      • Sili
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Nice though that thought is, the cost is too great.

    • Bluestocking
      Posted September 13, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Hell, if I were simply a halfway intelligent woman of childbearing age in Mississippi — pregnant or not! — I’d want to flee the state right now.

  3. Posted September 10, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    Yet another example of the Right subjecting a matter of science or scholarship to majority whim.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Yet another example of the Right subjecting a matter of science or scholarship to majority whim.

      it’s not even a matter of science.

      it boils down to either we choose to force women to bear children against their will, or we each of us to choose for ourselves whether or not we wish to reproduce.

      I myself will always come down on the side of not forcing women to risk their lives against their will.

      when the risk is removed, then the point is moot.

      when is the risk removed?

      birth.

      • Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

        Of course that’s the broader concern. But as the photo and Dr. Coyne point out, this is a group of cells, and calling it a sentient “person” is, in fact, against all scientific consensus to the contrary. But of course, scientific consensus matters not to these individuals: they maintain their ideologies in the face of science and scholarship to the contrary with impressive stubbornness.

  4. rmw
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I’ve tried to put my thoughts into a coherent form here, but have been unable to. So, I’ll just say these “personhood” amendments piss me off. They give more rights to a couple hundred cells than they do the woman carrying said cells. A poster over at Ophelia Benson’s blog had a good point, regarding “voting for personhood”–if you can vote for personhood, it’s not inconceivable that you could vote for “nonpersonhood”–and all of it’s intended consequences.

  5. Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    If someone wants to define a zygote as a person that’s okay by me.

    I stll support a woman’s right to chose. If she chooses abortion then it’s a “person” that’s being aborted, not a fetus. What’s the problem?

    Societies condone the death of persons under many circumstances: capital punishment, war, self-defense, euthanasia. The real issue is not whether a zygote is a person but whether society should condone abortion.

    • Adam M.
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      This is the same view I’ve come to myself. It’s not about whether you’re killing a person, but whether that killing is much more beneficial than the harm to the person killed.

      If the ‘person’ is incapable of thinking or feeling, then it is not harmed. If the person would feel momentary pain, that is a minor harm, but I think in many situations momentary pain is outweighed by the lifetime of benefits — even the benefit to the child itself, who (depending on the circumstances) may suffer an even greater amount of (emotional) pain being raised by parents that did not want it.

      The upshot of this line of thinking is that I must also support limited infanticide.

      Finally, Christians should support abortion too. Given that they believe dead babies go to heaven rather than hell (despite not believing in Jesus), then aborting a child guarantees its passage to Heaven, while letting it grow up greatly increases its chance of going to Hell. Sure, abortion would be a sin, but a Christian adult commits innumerable sins each day, and they are all forgiven. What greater act of Christian love than to abort your child? ;-)

      • Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        You say, “sure, abortion would be a sin”, but actually the Bible is full of baby killing and god-directed killing of pregnant women by the Israelites. It is ok to kill older children too, if they talk back to their parents (“Whoever curses father or mother shall die” Bible, Mark 7:10). And as people have posted here before, today’s Christian theologians (eg WL Craig) CONDONE this; child and fetus murder is ok because the young unblemished souls go straight to heaven. Abortions do the fetus a favor. So the anti-abortion movement has no biblical basis and is just another of those crazy issues that right wingers have artificially but successfully linked to religion.

  6. Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Monozygotic twins separate from each other AFTER conception. Which twin gets the soul, and which twin is not a real person?

    This knock-down argument should be used against these idiots more often.

    • Troy
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:32 am | Permalink

      Surely an omnipotent god can create another soul to infuse into the initially, for the briefest of moments, soulless twin? That’s what I would come up with, if I were a believer.

      • Linda Grilli Calhoun
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

        I’d be more interested in what happens to the extra soul when two embryos combine to form a chimera. L

        • Troy
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

          Then one of the souls goes to heaven.

          See how easy that is?

          • Linda Grilli Calhoun
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

            Well, rats, I was hoping for some kind of multi-personalitied freak. L

          • Filippo
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

            Or does a “multiple personality” come into existence, assuming such a phenomenon exists? Why would a deity whose eye is on the sparrow allow/want that to happen? And how would a deity rationally go about choosing which person(s) to whom to grant this “privilege”?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        Surely an omnipotent god can create another soul to infuse into the initially, for the briefest of moments, soulless twin?

        nope.

        the idea is that the soul enters at conception.

        twin formation is after that.

        so they would have to then change their definition of when the soul enters the “body”.

        surely you can see how that would be a problem for forced-pregnancy advocates?

    • Jack van Beverningk
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      I’m afraid few people will see this as a knock-down argument: BOTH will get souls: why is that a problem? (garbage in, garbage out).

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        see above, Jack.

        twin formation is AFTER conception.

        • Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          We can all see the effectiveness of the argument, but I think the point being made is that theists are 100% impervious to logic and reason. There is no such thing as a knock-down argument when you’re up against someone whose argument consists of: “because of magic!”

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            I think the point being made is that theists are 100% impervious to logic and reason

            but not everyone is, and here we have a case where the majority of an entire state will be asked to define what is and is not a person.

            logic and reason must not be ignored as tools, simply because there are those for whom they do not apply.

            • Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

              Oh, I certainly didn’t mean that we shouldn’t go ahead and make sound arguments – that we should just lie down and give up. Just that I really can’t imagine the argument that would finally make theists (of a particular stripe, anyway) say “golly, I see what you mean! You’re absolutely right!”

              Of course some will – I did. But I see what Jack was getting at.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

                Just that I really can’t imagine the argument that would finally make theists (of a particular stripe, anyway) say “golly, I see what you mean! You’re absolutely right!”

                of course, but I want to make sure you realize that even in Miss., fundies like that are in the minority.

                that doesn’t mean that that minority can’t still get enough to vote so that a referendum like this actually WOULD result in defacto illegalizing abortion for all women in Miss.

                this, in fact, is the biggest danger of the referendum process:

                it allows a well organized, vocal, minority to dictate terms to the rest of a complacent state.

              • Posted September 11, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

                I’m really not arguing w you about what needs to be done, in a real-world, practical sense.

                I’m simply noting, in a purely rhetorical sense, that Jack is right. Whatever argument we bring, no matter how “knock-down” it actually is, will be met with “nuh-uh, because of magic!”

    • Alveno Kondyles
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

      The soul is part of the physical being. It is the part of what God calls the flesh. It possesses mind, emotion etc. If the twin is born, and is not a zombie, then it must have a soul. Even though it seems unlikely, you even have a soul. You just seem heartless. I’m interested in what day you think that a fetus or cell mass is not a human? Be specific! What day? Then the day after that, it would be a human, and have rights? Correct? Or does it matter to you? Try this exercise working backwards, from the day of birth?

      • Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know… What day were you first self aware? Be specific! What day?

        So… Two Christian pro-lifers were telling me that zygotes were fully human because God had imbued them with souls.

        “Ah, souls!” I replied.

        /@

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

          “Ah, souls!”

          gesundheit.

        • Steersman
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

          Were they offended? Or maybe you don’t have the Southern drawl?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        What day? Then the day after that, it would be a human, and have rights?

        being classified as a member of the the Genus “Homo”, and assigning specific rights are two entirely different kettles of fish.

        your confusion about this tends to make me think you haven’t really thought about this much.

        rights are arbitrarily assigned, by necessity.

    • Steve
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      I am curious, what is your knock-down argument against the fact that once a sperm fertilizes an egg, unique dna is created. If left uninterrupted, statistically it will more than likely become a unique individual.
      I am not arguing for banning abortion. I just think that there is good secular reasoning for being against abortions of convenience.

      • Tulse
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

        what is your knock-down argument against the fact that once a sperm fertilizes an egg, unique dna is created.

        Um…”unique DNA” is not a person?

      • Grania
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        Do you seriously think that “unique DNA” is a good secular reason to force women to bear children against their will? Really?

        • Steve
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          Not at all. I stated that I am not arguing for banning abortions. I can think of no way to effectively ban abortions of convenience. But what’s wrong with suggesting adoption to someone who would otherwise opt for an abortion, based on the unique dna argument? Isn’t it a scientific argument?
          When we observe the last survivor of a species die off, don’t we use the same logic? That creature will never exist again.

          • Steve Smith
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

            This doesn’t make sense, and in any way doesn’t apply to the named clones. The zygote’s DNA is not unique, as there is a copy from each parent’s gamete. The one-in-2^46 combination of the DNA is probably unless it splits into a twin, unique, but so what?

            • Steve
              Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:14 am | Permalink

              So what? You just said it was unique. I happen to think that is important. Perhaps you do not. I’m not in favor of more laws, I would just like to see people be more responsible with their reproductive organs.

              • Tulse
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

                So it would be ok for me to murder one identical twin, since there is another copy of that “unique” DNA around? Or do we perhaps think that people are more than their particular DNA sequence?

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                I would just like to see people be more responsible with their reproductive organs

                slut shamer.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

            But what’s wrong with suggesting adoption to someone who would otherwise opt for an abortion,

            spoken obviously as a member of a sex that not only does not have to bear that burden, but hasn’t even spoken with someone who has.

            fuck you and your naivete.

            • Steve
              Posted September 10, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

              You are quite mistaken, but thanks for effectively adding nothing meaningful to the conversation.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

                no, you’ve made it quite clear you are VERY naive on this subject, both in this and your subsequent posts.

                you also seem to refuse to listen to actual women telling you what they feel their own risks are.

                to you, it’s a mathematical game.

                so, yes, get a clue and talk to some actual women before you try to make up your mind on this issue based on the completely IRRELEVANT non-issues you are posting here.

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 12, 2011 at 2:58 am | Permalink

              spoken obviously as a member of a sex that not only does not have to bear that burden, but hasn’t even spoken with someone who has.

              fuck you and your naivete.

              Thank you, Ichthyic.

          • satan augustine
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

            “…abortions of convenience. But what’s wrong with suggesting adoption to someone who would otherwise opt for an abortion…”

            Abortions of convenience? What on earth our these?

            As for what’s wrong with suggesting adoption to someone who would opt for an abortion:

            The someone in this case would always be a woman and it’s wrong to insist that she use her body as an incubator for a baby she does not want. It is her body and pregnancy can seriously alter the size, functioning and health of her body. She is under no obligation to allow it to be taken over by another being (human fetus).

            • Steersman
              Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

              As for what’s wrong with suggesting adoption to someone who would opt for an abortion:

              The someone in this case would always be a woman and it’s wrong to insist that she use her body as an incubator for a baby she does not want. It is her body and pregnancy can seriously alter the size, functioning and health of her body. She is under no obligation to allow it to be taken over by another being (human fetus).

              I think that is either misreading what was said – I don’t see that anything was said about “insisting a woman use her body as an incubator” – or is a somewhat presumptuous argument, as if to say that you personally know of all of the factors, emotions, and values that would influence a woman’s choice in that situation. In any case, I can well understand a woman’s desire to abort in, for example, cases where she recognizes her financial inability to care for the child. And I quite agree with providing her that option.

              But you, among others, seem unable to conceive – a man’s estate I guess, fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be – that a woman might desire to give birth even in spite of her perceived emotional or financial inabilities. For one thing not every pregnant woman is likely to be an atheist or be totally unattached to the fetus in spite of the emotional and physiological costs and trauma of giving birth to it and then giving it up for adoption. But, again, emphasizing and championing the principle of choice – which does seem the one currently in play if I’m not mistaken, that should still, I think, be an option that is likewise provided.

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

                don’t be an idiot.

                adoption has always been an option available to everyone.

                that is hardly what is at issue here.

                if you think that people are unaware they can give babies up for adoption, and so must be required by law to be lectured on the subject when they ask for an abortion, you’re an idiot, plain and simple.

              • Steersman
                Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

                Ichthyic said:

                adoption has always been an option available to everyone.

                that is hardly what is at issue here.

                You might want to try “putting mind in gear before putting mouth in motion”. And reading the relevant posts before “shooting from the lip”. “satan augustine” said, and I quote, referring to and paraphrasing the question from Steve:

                As for what’s wrong with suggesting adoption to someone who would opt for an abortion

                From which he apparently proceeded to go off on a tangent assuming that “suggesting adoption” was somehow equivalent to “insisting that a pregnant woman use her body as an incubator for a baby she does not want”. All I did was point out that that was either a misreading or a presumptuous argument asserting in the process that the adoption option was a reasonable component of the pro-choice position.

              • Steve
                Posted September 11, 2011 at 3:38 am | Permalink

                Thanks, nowhere have I stated that a woman should be forced to be an incubator. Or thrown into a cage if she chooses to abort.

              • Steersman
                Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

                Steve,

                No problemo; like to keep the books balanced. Seems at times that “Gnu Atheists” are their own worst enemies and are frequently seen to be shooting themselves in the foot – “friendly fire” indeed.

              • Microraptor
                Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

                Steersman, your statements might be slightly convincing if they weren’t regurgitated anti-choice garbage. Adoption has been a well known option for an unwanted pregnancy for centuries, trying to pretend that someone “might not know” about adoption is on the same level as saying you want to “teach the controversy” on evolution.

              • Steersman
                Posted September 12, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

                Microraptor,

                Steersman, your statements might be slightly convincing if they weren’t regurgitated anti-choice garbage.

                You have a rather odd, not to say highly deficient, understanding of the “anti-choice” position if you think these statements of mine qualify as such:

                I did not at all say anything about forcing any woman to “carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.”

                All I did was point out … asserting in the process that the adoption option was a reasonable component of the pro-choice position.

                In any case, I can well understand a woman’s desire to abort …. And I quite agree with providing her that option.

                But, pragmatically speaking, abortion itself seems to me to be a bit of a tragedy from square one, but also, entailed in that, a case of triage.

                Simply incredible. I don’t know where the Justices’ heads are at to not realize that the amendment is tantamount to overriding the federal law on abortion. What’s next? An amendment to reinstate slavery?

                You might want to consider that there are going to be exceptions to most, if not all, rules, all classifications, and just because someone doesn’t tow the party line in all cases that doesn’t mean that they don’t subscribe to the central principles. Failing to differentiate between the window dressings and those principles tends to come under the heading of “four legs good; two legs bad” dogma – highly problematic if not fatal.

                As for “teach the controversy” – since you brought it up – I should mention that I would quite readily agree that Creationists are largely off the wall and out to lunch. However, I also think that their efforts serve some purpose at least in keeping the science honest. Failing, if not refusing, to acknowledge that there is some controversy in the field – if not “the” controversy and if not a “revolution” (yet) – still tends to qualify, in my view, as dogma of the aforementioned type. Relative to both points you might want to take a look at some papers or posts, pro and con, by Massimo Pigliucci, Jerry Coyne (and here), Richard Lewontin (Jerry’s doctoral advisor), and David Sloane Wilson.

              • Microraptor
                Posted September 13, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

                Steersman, you’re posting copy-pastes of arguments used by anti-choice organizations. Regardless of what you seem to think, most women who go in for abortions actually do regard it as a big deal and spend a lot of time considering whether or not to do so. At the end of the day, they get abortions because they’ve decided, for whatever reason, that they don’t want to carry the fetus to term.

                “As for “teach the controversy” – since you brought it up – I should mention that I would quite readily agree that Creationists are largely off the wall and out to lunch. However, I also think that their efforts serve some purpose at least in keeping the science honest.”

                Bull. Shit. All such efforts do is distract people from where the actual facts are and waste the time and effort of actual scientists who end up combating misinformation when they could have been doing something that would actually advance our knowledge.

              • Steersman
                Posted September 14, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

                Microraptor said:

                Steersman, you’re posting copy-pastes of arguments used by anti-choice organizations. …. At the end of the day, [women] get abortions because they’ve decided, for whatever reason, that they don’t want to carry the fetus to term.

                So we agree that women should have the choice – great. Though you, and others, seem to react to any statements about adoption services as if they were tantamount to a Trojan horse or some kind of a poisoned chalice.

                “As for “teach the controversy” – since you brought it up – ….”

                Bull. Shit. All such efforts do is distract people from where the actual facts are and waste the time and effort of actual scientists who end up combating misinformation when they could have been doing something that would actually advance our knowledge.

                Maybe in an ideal world that would be the case, but it should be obvious that we’re not there yet. And it seems the only way to get there is by “combating that misinformation” and the best place to do that is in the schools where critical thinking skills can be developed. In which regard, you might want to take a look at a book review by Richard Lewontin who concludes:

                Conscientious and wholly admirable popularizers of science like Carl Sagan use both rhetoric and expertise to form the mind of masses because they believe, like the Evangelist John, that the truth shall make you free. But they are wrong. It is not the truth that makes you free. It is your possession of the power to discover the truth. Our dilemma is that we do not know how to provide that power.

                And though you might wish to shoot the messenger here again, you, or others, might be interested in these quotes of Sagan and Mooney & Kirschenbaum on the Math Drudge site:

                We’ve arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.

                To address these problems, Mooney and Kirschenbaum call for nothing less than a fundamental restructuring of the scientific establishment. First of all, scientists themselves must squarely face the abysmal job they have done in communicating their research to the public.

          • Aquaria
            Posted September 11, 2011 at 5:00 am | Permalink

            How fucking stupid.

            Just how the fuck do you determine convenience?

            I have a newsflash for you, champ: No pregnancy is convenient. It will invariably involve pain, blood, puke, piss, shit, tearing flesh, and often worse.

            Women shouldn’t be forced to go through with something that can harm them or kill them. Women are maimed and die from pregnancy, every year, 10 or more times as often as they are if they abort. You’re effectively telling women that they need to risk death of bodily harm, because you think abortion is icky.

            Fuck your feelings. Your feelings mean jack shit compared to my body. Got that?

            And your “don’t abort, put it up for adoption” scenario? Fuck you. Women aren’t brood mares for the people who can’t have kids. Nobody is entitled to a child. If you can’t have one–deal with it. You don’t get to hijack another woman’s body just because you got stiffed in the fertility department and are so empty and shallow that you can’t find a way to find meaning in your life without using a woman to get a BAYYYYYBEEEE.

            Adopt one of the tens of thousands of kids in foster care. Every year, thousands of kids in this country “age out” of the foster care program, and were never adopted. They start life with nothing. ZERO. And pieces of shit like you do nothing for them, but have plenty of time to tell women they need to give birth to another human being, when those kids never get homes?

            Fuck you.

            You care about adopting so much, get off your ass and adopt one of those kids. Otherwise, you’re a control-freak sexist prude scumbag who only wants to tell women what to do with their lives, their bodies, because you can’t stand the idea that women have sex.

            You disgust me.

            • Steve
              Posted September 11, 2011 at 5:58 am | Permalink

              You are jumping to conclusions. I haven’t stated that I am for any of the things you describe.

              • Microraptor
                Posted September 11, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

                But they are the results of what you are saying.

      • RFW
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        One woman’s convenience is another woman’s necessity.

      • steve oberski
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        The only person that can determine the “convenience” is the woman in question.

        • Se Habla Espol
          Posted September 11, 2011 at 12:03 am | Permalink

          My wife and I find it quite convenient, thank you, that she was able to abort the pregnancy that would have killed her (and the fetus), leaving her other three kids motherless.

      • rmw
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Can you please explain what you mean by “abortions of convenience”?

        I think that term, regardless what you may mean by it, could be used to extremely limit when a woman could get an abortion. Teenage pregnancy? Shouldn’t have had sex. No abortion. Birth control fail? Shouldn’t have had sex. No abortion. Mother’s health endangered? That’s a risk you take. No abortion. Fetus will not survive pregnancy or birth? Gotta leave it in God’s hands. No abortion.

        To be honest, I don’t the idea of limiting abortions. I’m not one who likes the slippery slope argument, however, when you look at the anti-abortion advocates in the US, I do think that their goal is to gradually limit abortion until it is either outright criminalized or so difficult to attain, it’s been de facto banned.

        • RFW
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

          And when abortion is re-criminalized or made impossibly difficult to obtain, guess what? Desperate women will resort to desperate measures, and emergency rooms will once again see women who underwent dirty abortions and now have sepsis, many of them dying.

          Goodbye, legal abortions, hello, coathangers.

          • CW
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

            Of course the “pro-life” response would just be “Slut got what she deserved.”

      • Fox
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        What statistics are you going by? The numbers are shaky, but by some estimates up to 75% of fertilizations do NOT go on to result in full-term pregnancies: http://miscarriage.about.com/od/riskfactors/a/miscarriage-statistics.htm

        Just because sperm enters egg does not mean that it will become a baby “if left uninterrupted.” Many fertilized eggs fail to even implant.

        For that matter, the way that birth control pills work is that they prevent ovulation and prevent the uterus from building up the thick lining necessary (generally speaking) for implantation. This is why crazy pro-lifers sometimes oppose hormonal birth control, because there is a chance that an egg could still be fertilized but then be unable to implant. If we define a fertilized egg as a person, then a woman taking the pill (or performing any activity that would interfere with implantation) would be homicide, wouldn’t it?

        Finally, without even glancing at your name I could confidently guess that you are male just by your use of the phrase “abortions of convenience.” If you think carrying a fetus to term for nine months, greatly risking your own health and permanently changing your body* – nevermind the attendant financial costs and emotional stress – is merely an “inconvenience,” then you, sir, may kindly go to hell. Once you start judging a woman’s rational for having an abortion (and dismissing not being financially, emotionally, or physically prepared to have a baby as a matter of “convenience”), then you’ve wandered out of the “pro-choice” camp. “Pro-choice” does not mean “pro- choices that I consider valid.”

        *I hate to descend into vulgarity, but please consider taking a shit so large that your doctor recommends (and may even perform without consulting you) surgically cutting your anus in advance in order to prevent it from tearing. Yeah, when women say “they stitched me up” after a birth, that’s what they’re referring to. (In fact, there is a real risk that you will tear straight through your perineum to your anus and beyond, which causes extremely serious and permanent issues. Enjoy: http://www.babycenter.com/0_perineal-tears_1451354.bc First question: “Is it common to tear during a vaginal birth?” “Yes.”) Maybe I’m just irrationally concerned about not shredding my lady parts, but that doesn’t seem like an “inconvenience” to me.

        • Tim
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          If we define a fertilized egg as a person, then a woman taking the pill (or performing any activity that would interfere with implantation) would be homicide, wouldn’t it?

          In fact, if a woman doesn’t take all measures possible to ensure that the fertilized egg does implant, shouldn’t she be guilty of involuntary manslaughter?

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

            If we don’t have sex, constantly, in order to maximize our production of unique individuals, should that be considered mass murder?

            I like where this is going…

            “Good News everyone!”

        • Steve
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          The length of your response shows you at least care about the subject and are willing to share information. I will overlook your sexist conjecture, since I have none of the misconceptions you described.
          The 75% statistic I will look into, although I would think it’s a difficult number to nail down.
          I know the unique dna argument sounds like a “life begins at conception” argument, and I suppose in a way it is. This isn’t a foot in the door approach that ultimately will make abortions illegal. It’s really just a personal philosophy I developed when I first learned about dna, which was in high school. It led me to make more responsible choices that resulted in no unwanted pregnancies. If you are a woman I would think you would appreciate that as the financial and emotional burden of unwanted pregnancies always falls to the woman.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

            sorry, but sex is good.

            nothing you have said changes this, and nothing you have said bears on any issues of “responsibility”.

            instead of slut shaming, why not just suggest men wear condoms, or a couple use some other form of birth control?

            you’d be on much safer ground than trying to argue that DNA is related to making responsible fucking choices in abortion.

            like I keep saying, you come across as very naive.

      • JLT
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

        Between 30 and 70 % of fertilized eggs fail to implant (pdf), and of those that implant, 15-20 % end in spontaneous abortion before the 6th week of pregnancy (Source if not more (25 %). So, it is approximately as likely that this “unique DNA” is dicarded naturally as that it becomes a unique individual.
        IMO, seen from a biological standpoint, it is absurd to call a fertilized egg a person.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        UV light can create mutations in my skin cell DNA that can be replicated.

        it is thus, unique.

        should I be concerned to preserve what then has the potential to become cancerous tissue?

        • Steve
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

          Your radiated skin cells do not have a 25% chance of becoming a person, so your argument doesn’t make sense.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

            it’s merely a matter of time.

            your ignorance of the subject of stem cells notwithstanding.

            of course, the purpose of this “referendum” is also to somehow stop cloning so…

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

            look, in the end, there is only ONE unarguable perspective to debate this from:

            Do we allow 50% of our population to make their own reproductive choices, or do we remove that from them and force them to bring a pregnancy to term?

            the rest is just timing and semantics.

            • astrosmash
              Posted September 12, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

              Ichthyic, point and match. I’ll be using that one. Well done

      • Fraser
        Posted September 11, 2011 at 12:08 am | Permalink

        I am curious, what is your knock-down argument against the fact that once a sperm fertilizes an egg, unique dna is created. If left uninterrupted, statistically it will more than likely become a unique individual.

        How long does an unattended bunch of unique DNA last in general? Not long enough to allow this “uniqueness” property to mean much.

        Every steak you eat comes from a unique cow, you know.

    • Adam M.
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      I think a more effective argument notes that the majority of pregnancies end in miscarriage (i.e. spontaneous abortion) before the mother is even aware that she was pregnant.

      That’s more than half of all the people ever conceived! Why would God create so many people only to snuff them out a few days or a week later? That would make God the biggest abortionist of all.

    • Strider
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      The more interesting question, to me, is what about the cloned individual mentioned in the ridiculous amendment? Does the clone get half a soul? Also, since cloning is purely human intervention, does the doctor determine what fraction of the soul goes to the clone?

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

        If you look at their website, you’ll see they think this is a legal strategy to check cloning as well as abortion.

        they’re wrong, but what else is new.

    • Myron
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      As for the argument from monozygotic twinning being a know-down argument, see:

      * Oderberg, David S. “The Metaphysical Status of the Embryo: Some Arguments Revisited.” Journal of Applied Philosophy 25, no. 4 (2008): 263-276. http://www.reading.ac.uk/AcaDepts/ld/Philos/dso/papers/Metaphysical%20Status%20of%20the%20Embryo.pdf

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

        *yawn*

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

          yeah, I see how your idiotic “metaphysical philosophers” get “around” the issue of souls at conception:

          This would be a mistake, for conception is a metaphysical phenomenon
          and fertilization only one kind of biological manifestation of it.

          ROFLMAO

          if you think that is a legitimate argument: that you can simply redefine away the issue, then you have much promise as a theologian, but not much else.

          hey, while you’re at it, you can join the rest of the Coutier Squad and redefine what the word “Jesus” means for the religious, and “Sin”, and even “God”.

          no, wait, that’s already been done.

          All you are doing is defining away religious dogma, making it entirely irrelevant to begin with.

          I would applaud, but I’m too busy laughing.

          “Sophisticated Theology” these days apparently can be translated as:

          “We can redefine anything to escape meaning!”

          • Posted September 11, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            There’s also no reason to accept a non-materialistic, non-secular metaphysics these days. Claiming that some sort of idealism applies here is just questionbegging at best.

    • radioredrafts
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      No, I’m afraid it wouldn’t work. They would just say there’s two souls, not one that goes to one twin or gets divided into two.

    • Tim
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Well, the soul divides when the zygotes divide, silly Dawkins. Then the twins are soulmates!

    • MadScientist
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Obviously they have 2 half-souls and since souls are like strings, only the quantity changes. The question is: do they go to heaven or only to half-heaven?

    • Bluestocking
      Posted September 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      I actually used a similar argument on another blog — although in my case, I theorized that if the soul enters the fertilized egg at the moment of conception, then perhaps the soul would also have to split and neither twin (triplet, etc.) could be considered a person on his or her own. However, after giving it further thought, I realized that my own logic also needed a little fine-tuning…

      Identical twins share the same DNA, but the DNA replicates when the zygote divides — so if the soul enters the fertilized egg at the moment of conception, then perhaps the soul would have to replicate as well. However, this also cannot be since that would mean that identical twins would need to have the same personality…and anyone who’s spent time with identical twins knows that they often have very different temperaments despite the fact that they have exactly the same DNA.

  7. Donald L. Anderson
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    If personhood begins with the zygote, why are the authorities not holding funerals for the 30-40% of zygotes that are defective, fail to develop and are flushed out of women’s bodies in miscarriages – known and unknown?

    • Tulse
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

      Don’t worry — where this all leads to is the authorities monitoring the fertility of all women, and those whose daily readings indicate conception will be incarcerated until they come to term (or miscarry, in which case they will be charged with manslaughter).

      • rmw
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Do you ever get the feeling some of yahoos read The Handmaid’s Tale and thought it was how-to manual?

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        If a fertilized egg is a full-fledged human being, then the most grave medical problem in the world is the number of humans dying due to miscarriages/spontaneous abortions. By this reasoning, women should be required each cycle to provide their menstrual fluid to an appropriate medical facility, so it can be tested for the presence of a fertilized egg — and, if one is found, so that the woman can be forced (or another woman with a suitable womb can be recruited) to bear that human till birth.

        • ckitching
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

          “Recruited”? You act like there’s to be a choice. One will be appointed from a database of women who are compatible and of sufficient age to bear this important person and bring it to term. Compliance is mandatory.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted September 10, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

            To indulge this sort of Godzilla-could-beat-up-Mothra fantasy thinking about our authoritarian future (since my comment invited it), while the preservation-of-human-life rationale would support enforced-labor labor, you should expect that volunteer uteri-bearers would be sought first — and in most cases successfully found. Look around: Things are a whole lot more Brave New World than 1984.

  8. Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Thus it follows that zygotes get to vote.

    • Jack van Beverningk
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      No it doesn’t. There’s a minimum age requirement for voting.

      • Linda Grilli Calhoun
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        Agreed, re: voting. But, this could really wreak havoc with a census. L

  9. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Is an unfertilised egg, or sperm, half a person?

    • astrosmash
      Posted September 12, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      and their due will be 20 acres and half a mule

  10. steve oberski
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Perhaps they should amend the referendum to give the citizens of Mississippi the chance to decide whether women, negros, gays, jews, hispanics, muslims and a plethora of other easily identifiable groups are worthy of “personhood”.

    And while they are at it, why not give them a chance to determine the value of PI and the speed of light.

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Or even ask for the majority to rule on the validity of Riemann’s hypothesis.

    • Tulse
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Perhaps they should amend the referendum to give the citizens of Mississippi the chance to decide whether women, negros, gays, jews, hispanics, muslims and a plethora of other easily identifiable groups are worthy of “personhood”.

      Please do not tempt them — I think we all know what the likely outcome would be…

  11. steve oberski
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    To address the issue in terms of the rights of the zygote, fetus, unborn child etc. is to give up the debate before it has properly started.

    This discussion always has to be framed in terms of the rights of women to control their own bodies.

    Sam Harris said something similar about the use of the word “atheist” to describe those who don’t believe the claims made by the religious:

    Why should we fall into this trap? Why should we stand obediently in the space provided, in the space carved out by the conceptual scheme of theistic religion? It’s as though, before the debate even begins, our opponents draw the chalk-outline of a dead man on the sidewalk, and we just walk up and lie down in it.

    • Adam M.
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      While I agree that the standpoint of women’s rights is a good one to argue from, I don’t think we should shy away from talking about the rights of the fetus, etc. Namely, we’re a secular society and there’s no secular basis for natural rights, therefore any rights that the unborn child has must be argued to exist by moral calculus and not simply presumed, and that the moral calculus ends up in favor of abortion.

    • UB
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      I completely agree. Any time anyone brings up this “personhood” nonsense, we all need to ask loudly and relentlessly: So what? Does being a person give you the right to use someone else’s body against their will in an incredibly invasive and non-trivial way?

      I am undeniably a person, and I know I don’t have that right. The confused, backward, self-contradictory principles that lead people to think that a fetus, let alone a zygote, should be entitled to a right no other class of person has just absolutely sicken me.

      • Fox
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        This.

        My favourite analogy: why isn’t organ donation mandatory? If you happen to be an exact match, why can’t we force you to undergo life-threatening and permanently scarring surgery to save the life of another?

        And if they start talking about it being the woman’s “fault” (because, duh, she had sex!), then I ask: OK, so if the victim of a drunk driver needs a new kidney, and there are no other options, he should have the right to demand it of the guy who hit him? What if he “just” needs blood, can we help ourselves to the driver’s blood? What if it’s not a drunk driver – just a momentarily negligent one? Or a perfectly good one whose brakes went out?

        If you’re not willing to require any physical sacrifice on the part of the “guilty party” here to save the life of an actual, fully-grown person, why are you willing to do it to save a clump of cells?

        Oh, right. Because the person you’re forcing to make the sacrifice is a woman.

        • ckitching
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          Good analogies. I may have to steal them.

  12. Michael Johnson
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Go read the latest Jesus & Mo. Great commentary on the issue.

  13. Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    “cloning”? I didn’t know human cloning was even legal in the US.

    • Michael Johnson
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      Presumably they’re just covering all their bases.

      • Adam M.
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

        I think they also want to target IVF, which they see as murder of all the unused fertilized eggs.

  14. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    “It does seem true that a new human life begins to exist when a human sperm fuses with a human egg; for the resulting entity—the zygote—does not seem to be identical with either the sperm or the egg, it is indisputably alive (rather than being inanimate or dead), and it is genetically human. … But from the fact that something living and human begins to exist around the time of conception it does not follow that you or I began to exist at conception.”

    (MacMahan, Jeff. The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 4)

    “If we are talking not about the origin of life…but about the origin of an individual life, one can trace back directly from the newborn baby to the foetus, and back further to the origin of the individual embryo at the primitive streak stage in the embryonic plate at sixteen or seventeen days. If one tries to trace back further than that there is no longer a coherent entity. Instead there is a larger collection of cells, some of which are going to take part in the subsequent development of the embryo and some of which aren’t.”

    (McLaren, Anne. Discussion of “Prelude to Embryogenesis,” by Anne McLaren. In Human Embryo Research –Yes or No?, edited by Gregory Bock and Maeve O´Connor, 17-23/5-16 [McLaren]. London: Tavistock, 1986. p. 22)

  15. Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    “Now there are nonreligious objections to abortion, but clearly much of this “personhood” kerfuffle derives from religion and its attendant concept of a soul.”

    Absolutely. In fact, the nominally non-religious objections are often derived from or parasitic on what might be called “faith in hiding.” Should the Mississippi amendment be adopted, it will run headlong into ordinary human psychology, which generally drives much greater concern for sentient beings than for non-sentient embryos. Plus it entails all the criminal justice absurdities Vivian brings up in #1.

    “Few suppose we have to justify, on any additional metaphysical basis, our natural impulse to be protective of newborns, children, and adults. Rather, our default concern for their welfare is among the secular, non-religiously grounded benchmarks of what’s moral. It sets an objective ethical standard for behavior, such that when someone’s welfare is unjustly compromised, for instance by an unprovoked attack or murder, it provokes near universal condemnation. This ethical norm is a function of our shared, secular human psychology, not a contested metaphysics or worldview.

    “On the other hand, nearly everyone supposes we *do* have to justify, on some further basis, the claim that we should have the same level of concern for the zygote. Anti-abortion advocates, often religious, are continually engaged in mounting arguments for why that concern is obligatory, and why newly conceived embryos must be given the same rights as later stages of human life. This suggests that the default secular intuition is that it *doesn’t* merit the same concern, or possess the same rights, as do later stages. Pro-life forces are thus going very much against the grain of human psychology by demanding we accord embryos the same moral status as we do beings that we all agree are persons. As societies secularize, it becomes increasingly difficult for religious ideologies to suppress this psychological reality. A recent example is the lifting of the abortion ban in Mexico City, a secular outpost in a deeply Catholic society.”

    From “Faith in Hiding: Are There Secular Grounds for Banning Abortion?” at http://thehumanist.org/humanist/ThomasClark.html

  16. still learning
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Is this another example of psychological projection on their part? Do they self-identify with zygotes?

  17. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    I emphatically recommend the following book:

    * Ford, Norman M. When Did I Begin? Conception of the Human Individual in History, Philosophy and Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

    “…Prior to this stage [primitive streak formation] we do not have a living individual human body, but a mass of pre-programmed loosely organized developing cells and heterogeneous tissues until their ‘clock’ mechanisms become synchronized and triggered to harmoniously organize, differentiate and grow as heterogeneous parts of a single whole human organism. In this way the cells lose their own ontological individuality to form a new ontological individual. This change enables many actual individual cells and tissues to realize their potential to become a new multicellular developing human individual with a human nature. I think the sort of individuation and multicellular unity displayed with the appearance of the primitive streak justifies the claim that this is the beginning of an individual being that is a human person with the potential to develop to the age of reason.”
    (p. 175)

    “…The search for an answer to the question of when a human person begins has taken us on a winding and arduous journey of discovery along the inter-connecting pathways of history, philosophy, and science. Though the answer is ultimately to be given by philosophical reflection, it has not been easy to determine where to draw the fine line between the competence of science and metaphysics in this delicate exercise of philosophical induction. To a large extent the drawing of this line depends on one’s fundamental philosophical outlook. Those who do not favour a metaphysical approach to reality in general tend to draw the line at the stage of development when the emergence of rationally self-conscious acts enables us to relate to such a human individual in a personal way. Some draw the line at the stage of viability when the fetus can survive after birth. Those who give more importance to a metaphysical approach to reality tend to draw the line much earlier in human development. Of these, some are satisfied that a human person is present once a human zygote is constituted with the potential to develop into one or more adult human individuals. Others, myself included, draw the line two weeks later when a living individual human body is actually formed with the active potential to develop further without change in ontological identity.
    Instead of viewing development in the first two weeks after fertilization as development of the human individual, I have argued the process ought to be regarded as one of synthesis of a human individual. We have seen that for about 14 days after fertilization, until the appearance of the primitive streak, the multiplying cells are naturally synthesising a human individual. They have been aptly described as personne en devenir. The power of this incipient microscopic human individual to develop and grow from a tiny beginning to adulthood is paralleled by the adult person’s ability to trace back one’s personal history to that same beginning. A human individual and one’s personal history begin together when a living ontological individual with a truly human nature commences development while ever remaining the same individual being.
    Though I believe my arguments show that the human individual begins with the appearance of the primitive streak, and not before, it would be presumptuous to declare that my claim was definitely right and opposing opinions were definitely wrong. I have offered my philosophical reflections and reasonings on the scientific evidence now available as a contribution for the search after truth. Even if my arguments are faulty or erroneous, it is necessary to air them so that the truth may eventually emerge. I am sure the debate is far from over. Hopefully, the truth will soon appear to the satisfaction of all.”
    (pp. 181-2)

    • Steve
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check it out.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

        what you will end up discovering is that while wordy, in the end these definitions are no less arbitrary than any others we decide upon.

        you’d be better off just reading a good book on developmental biology instead.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      spam spam spam spam…

  18. Scryptic
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Frozen embryos of those who have undergone fertility treatments would be persons, too. Does the state propose forcing women to carry all of these unused frozen embryos to give these “people” the right to live as the rest of us?

  19. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    “Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, ‘The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.'”

    I strongly reject this equation of humanhood with personhood! “Person” is not a biological concept but a psychological one. No non-self-conscious, nonthinking being can properly be called a person. And zygotes are doubtless non-self-conscious, nonthinking beings.

    • Tulse
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      That is precisely the problem — the anti-abortion loons conflate “person” with “biological human”, largely because they believe all “biological humans” have a soul.

    • Filippo
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      So, wither Mitt Romney’s assertion that “Corporations are people”?

  20. Claimthehighground
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Since a large percentage of fertilizations result in spontaneous miscarriage (very often without the woman even knowing she was pregnant), could god be brought up on murder charges under this statute?

    • Filippo
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      The reply would surely be, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

  21. Raffi
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    There is a room or lab with freezers and petrie dishes of embryos and cells. Also in that room is a little girl of say 5 or 6 years old.

    The room catches on fire. Who do you go save? The girl or the contents of the freezer?

    End of story in my opinion.

    • Fox
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      *applause*

      (Of course, if you substituted a full grown woman for the little girl, some of these loons might change their answer. :P)

  22. Kevin Alexander
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Considering the fact that most conceptuses don’t implant in the uterus, do catholic women baptize their tampons when they flush them?

    Maybe a merciful god accepts the immersion in water to be enough to save the tiny souls without someone actually saying the words.

    • Tim
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Tragically, most women don’t flush the tampons because they tend to clog one’s plumbing. Which leaves us to wonder, now that Catholic dogma says there is no Limbo, where do unimplanted blastocyst’s souls go? These are questions that theologians must wrestle with!

      • steve oberski
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure Edward Feser is hard at work on this very important issue.

  23. JT
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    There are good arguments on both sides. However, the default position in a free society is freedom, and the freedom to choose. If someone wants to take away someone else’s freedoms, then they must have an extremely good case (air-tight) for doing so. In the case of abortion, it just isn’t clear that the anti-abortion crowd can make a better case than their opponents. So, in the end, abortion is something that needs to rest with the individual conscience of each woman.

  24. Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    This is really such a tiresome argument. Obviously, one would like to say, persons do not begin to exist at conception. Persons, in fact, do not exist until some time after birth. The religious argument is so tawdry and threadbare, but it keeps getting repeated ad nauseam.

    How is it possible to deal with this nonsense? They will continue to repeat the same old litany time after time. There is, as such, no argument that can show the religious position to be right or wrong. But there is nothing about the religious argument that cannot justly be questioned by a reasonable person.

    Indeed, it seems quite clear that the attempt to so completely discard all the common law consensus on the issue of the personhood of the unborn is an attempt to enforce religious dogma. This the courts should recognise as a breaching of the separation of church and state.

    Christian common law jurisdictions have never, to my knowledge, considered harm to the unborn as equivalent to murder. As Glanville Williams says in his magisterial study The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law:

    The rule of the common law is that the full protection conferred by the law of murder applies only to human beings who are born alive. [5]

    He then points out that the lines then drawn tend to be fuzzy and somewhat arbitrary, but the attempt to criminalise abortion in ways determined by religious belief would be to impose a completely arbitrary standard of what constitutes a human person which, in practice, would lead to enormous legal as well as personal conflicts and difficulties.

    It is well-known that when abortion was strictly contrary to statute law, a great many abortions took place nonetheless — estimates in Canada put the abortion rate before the abortion law was struck down at about the same as it is now, when abortion is accessible on demand — and, as criminal activities, these abortions took place in conditions which threatened the lives of the women concerned. The idea that abortion can be stopped by passing laws or criminalising activities fails to take into consideration the very real threats to women who become pregnant, whether risks their to livelihood or vocation, or implications for their solvency or psychological health, etc.

    Using the law to enforce religious conceptions of personhood or the beginning of human life is not only a blunt instrument which has in the past caused great harm to women, but it is even blunter now that emotions are so high, and people’s urge to interfere in the lives of others is given such free expression. The idea that this should merely be an issue for a majority to decide is simply ludicrous. Where do these primitive ideas come from, and why do they seem to have so much emotional force? If these people are so concerned about human life, there are millions of children around the world who are under threat right now. Why do they insist on criminalising the decisions of women before there is a child to be concerned about, when there are millions of lives they might save? This is a form of religious madness, and it should be recognised for what it is.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Using the law to enforce religious conceptions of personhood or the beginning of human life is not only a blunt instrument which has in the past caused great harm to women, but it is even blunter now that emotions are so high, and people’s urge to interfere in the lives of others is given such free expression. The idea that this should merely be an issue for a majority to decide is simply ludicrous.

      WINNER.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        for those that somehow missed it, this country was never founded on the principle of democracy (IIRC, I think you will not find that word mentioned in either the DOI or the Constitution). It was always a republic, and for good reason.

        I always thought that reading John Stuart Mill should be required for all secondary school students.

        those that want to legislate their personal preferences obviously never understood the dangers of democracy and mob rule that Mill so eloquently outlined so long ago.

        On Liberty

    • Kevin Alexander
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      ” Persons, in fact, do not exist until some time after birth. ”
      I often ask people if they remember being a baby. Honest non-delusional ones will admit–no.
      You don’t remember because you weren’t there. The person that you are is something you became. You were born with a brain but not with a mind. It’s something that your brain does in response to the world around it. It’s a process that begins sometime after birth and continues until death or dementia takes you.

  25. Jeff D
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    I would prefer to have state legislatures do their best to define the bundle of rights that go along with “personhood,” and then to do their best to define who or what qualify or don’t qualify as “persons,” subject to review by the courts.

    This is a different enterprise than the folly of defining falsehoods or prejudices as scientific or historical “facts.” What the Mississippi supporters of this ballot initiativew are doing is akin to the occasional efforts of nutball Congressman Randy Forbes to pass a joint resolution expressing a Congressional “finding” that the U.S.A. was founded as a “Christian nation.”

    • Tulse
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      I would prefer to have state legislatures do their best to define the bundle of rights that go along with “personhood,”

      “Rights” might give people the idea that the state should provide something for them, like minimal health care or decent old age support.

      Once the fetus is out, it’s on its own.

  26. RFW
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I am reminded of an old apocryphal story:

    Abraham Lincoln was tired of his cabinet being yes-men. He asked them, “if a dog’s tail is a leg, how many legs does a dog have?”

    They loyally responded “why, five, of course.”

    To which Lincoln replied “No. The dog still has only four legs. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

    Calling a blastocyte, fetus, or embryo a person doesn’t make it a person.

    There is an assumption in this hillbilly legislation that inducing expulsion of a fetus or embryo invariably results in its death. That being the case, I can’t but wonder what happens if a Mississippian gets an abortion, then presents the embryo or fetus to the local orphanage in a test tube full of Ringer’s solution: “here, you take care of it.”

  27. Steve Smith
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or functional equivalent thereof

    Given current technology, would this definition of persons not apply to nearly every isolated somatic cell in our bodies, as these are functional equivalents of clones?

    I just scraped the inside of my mouth with my finger nail and washed my hands of my epithelial cells. Would this constitute murder in Mississippi under the proposed law?

    Making this ridiculous equivalence diminishes human life.

  28. Ken Browning
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Well, I’m not exactly looking forward to the invitations to funerals for blastocysts. What will the coffins look like and will they be open? Will we all have to file by grim faced at the end? Will someone write a smarmy poem about failure to attach? Who will give the eulogy and what could possibly be said that isn’t bat-shit crazy?

  29. Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I find the assaults and subsequent collapse of women’s rights more than distressing. Quite a while ago, I decided that male judges should recuse themselves from any judgment on this subject. The cartoon and its conclusion is brilliant and correct.

  30. cornbread_r2
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Notably Mississippi was also the last state to ratify the 19th amendment — giving women the right vote — and didn’t do so until 1984.

    • cornbread_r2
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      * right to vote

    • Microraptor
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      How was it able to hold off so long?

      • cornbread_r2
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

        After three-fourths of the states ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 — and it became the law of the land — it also became irrelevant if any other of the remaining states ratified it or not. To be fair, 10 other (mostly Southern) states also delayed in ratifying, but none as long as Mississippi.

        The link below is pretty interesting. For instance, apparently Massachusetts didn’t ratify the Bill of Rights until 1939!

        http://www.usconstitution.net/constamrat.html

  31. Steersman
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    The 7-2 ruling said those groups had not met the legal burden required to restrict the right of citizens to amend the state constitution ….

    Simply incredible. I don’t where the Justices’ heads are at to not realize that the amendment is tantamount to overriding the federal law on abortion. What’s next? An amendment to reinstate slavery? …

  32. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    ” Are Six-Day-Old Embryos Human Organisms?

    Many people who believe that we were once embryos attempt to defend that view by claiming (1) that an embryo is a human organism in the earliest stage of its life and (2) that we are essentially human organisms. I believe, however, that the first of these claims is contentious and that the second is false. I will begin with the first. Although I do not think that it can be shown to be false that a six-day-old embryo is a human organism, I think that there is room for reasonable doubt about this. I will try to show what is at issue here. There are two interpretations of what happens in the first fortnight after conception. The first treats the embryo as a human organism; the second does not. I will sketch them both and state the case for thinking that the second is more plausible. According to the first interpretation, the successive cell divisions that follow the process of conception are events in the history of a single entity composed of various cells. This entity begins as one cell—the zygote—and continues to exist, as two cells, then four, and so on. Yet it is unclear what makes all the various cells, considered synchronically or diachronically, parts of a single individual. They are all contiguous within a single extracellular membrane (the zona pellucida), but that alone does not make them a single entity any more than placing a number of marbles in a sack turns them into a single entity. To consider whether the cells within the membrane of the early human embryo constitute a human organism, it is necessary to be clear about what a human organism is. I accept the familiar idea that a living human organism is an entity with human genes that is composed of various living parts that function together in an integrated way to sustain a single life, and that is not itself a part of another living biological entity. (The last clause is necessary in order to exclude the implication that living human cells or organs are themselves human organisms.) According to the second interpretation of the events in the first two weeks following conception, the cells that compose an embryo during this period do not yet serve sufficiently different functions to allow us to say that they are coordinated in the service of a single life. While each cell is
    itself alive, they are not together involved in processes that are constitutive of a further, higher-order life. During the first couple of weeks after conception, all that exists is a collection of qualitatively almost identical cells living within a single membrane. They are like marbles in a sack. On this interpretation, the single-celled zygote is a single living entity, though not itself a human organism. When it divides, nothing but its constituent matter continues to exist. The zygote itself ceases to exist, as an ameba does when it divides, though in doing so it gives rise to two daughter cells. When they in turn divide, they too cease to exist. There is no individual that persists through these transformations. Only when there is sufficiently significant cell differentiation, so that different cells begin to serve different though coordinated functions that are identifiable as the regulative and self-preservative processes of a higher-order individual of which the cells are parts, do the cells together constitute a human organism. Only then is there a new and further life that is constituted by the integrated processes carried out by the various group of differently functioning cells. Since significant cell differentiation is clearly identifiable at around two weeks after conception, it seems reasonable to treat that as the time at which a human organism begins to exist. For those who persist in thinking that a unique human individual cannot exist until after the possibility of twinning has passed, it is perhaps significant that the time at which significant cell differentiation begins to occur coincides rather closely with the time at which twinning ceases to be possible. This second interpretation may be disputed on the ground that the cells
    that compose the embryo are coordinated very early on, certainly before six days after conception. There must, after all, be communication and coordination among them prior to significant differentiation, if only in order to ensure that different cell lines develop in different directions. Embryonic development would not get very far if all the cells decided, all at once, to specialize as skin cells. This forceful objection helps to reveal what I think is fundamentally at issue in the dispute between proponents of these two different interpretations of what happens during the first two weeks after conception. Cellular specialization and intercellular coordination are matters of degree. Whether the cells within the zona pellucida constitute a human organism depends on whether they are differentiated and coordinated to
    a high enough degree to warrant the claim that their interactions constitute a higher-order life. But there is no objectively determinate degree of differentiation and coordination that is necessary and sufficient
    for the presence of a higher-order life. When we know all the facts about the various cells within the zona pellucida and their functions, we know all the basic facts there are to know. While there is no doubt a threshold along the spectrum of degrees of coordination beyond which it is undeniable that a collection of cells are functioning together to sustain a higher-order life, there may be, prior to that threshold, no objective fact about whether the cells together constitute an organism. Whether there is a human organism present may simply be underdetermined by the facts. The question of when the level of differentiation and coordination becomes sufficient for the presence of a human organism is not a biological or scientific question but a metaphysical question. How we ought to answer it is a matter of overall coherence among our beliefs and concepts.”

    (McMahan, Jeff. “Killing Embyros for Stem Cell Research.” Metaphilosophy 38, nos. 2/3 (2007): 170-189. pp. 178-80)

  33. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Recommended paper:

    * Smith, Barry, and Berit Brogaard. “Sixteen Days.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28, no. 1 (2003): 45-78. http://ontology.buffalo.edu/smith/articles/16Days.pdf

    “ABSTRACT: When does a human being begin to exist? We argue that it is possible, through a combination of biological fact and philosophical analysis, to provide a definitive answer to this question. We lay down a set of conditions for being a human being, and we determine when, in the course of normal fetal development, these conditions are first satisfied. Issues dealt with along the way include: modes of substance-formation, twinning, the nature of the intra-uterine environment, and the nature of the relation between fetus and mother (connection, parthood, dependence).”

    • Steersman
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      From that paper:

      What follows is an exercise in ontology, and clearly no conclusions of an ethical sort can be drawn directly from the answer to any ontological question. Lest the reader thinks that it is possible to draw such conclusions from our answer to the question as to when a human being begins to exist, we note (1) that there are many situations in which it is justified to kill a human being (self-defense is one such case), and also (2) that establishing when a human being begins to exist does not in and of itself establish when rights or other morally relevant attributes can begin to be assigned to that being.

      That first sentence in the above does suggest that there’s not much point in reading much further and raises some questions about the utility and value of such “ontological” exercises.

      But, pragmatically speaking, abortion itself seems to me to be a bit of a tragedy from square one, but also, entailed in that, a case of triage. Maybe, as others have suggested, the Catholic Church and the promoters of that amendment would like to consider providing resources to care for and raise the resulting children. Although I note that the latter have, at least with their rider – “This initiative will not require any additional revenue for implementation”, explicitly disavowed any responsibility for the consequences.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        Maybe, as others have suggested, the Catholic Church and the promoters of that amendment would like to consider providing resources to care for and raise the resulting children.

        it’s simply not good enough.

        even IF the proponents of making all abortion illegal agreed in writing to take care of the resulting unwanted children, it still is forcing someone to risk their lives to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

        there is indeed a reason the phrase: “forced birth advocates” is gaining steam.

        sorry, but none of these esoteric arguments alter the fact that what we would be doing is forcing women to carry babies to term, against their will.

        that’s a non-starter in my book.

        you simply CANNOT legislate this stuff. It always MUST be a matter of personal choice.

        • Steersman
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

          even IF the proponents of making all abortion illegal agreed in writing to take care of the resulting unwanted children, it still is forcing someone to risk their lives to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term.

          I did not at all say anything about forcing any woman to “carry an unwanted pregnancy to term”. All I was suggesting – putting the ball in court of the promoters of that amendment – is that they should be prepared to foot the bill for the consequences. Though there is a devil or two in there with the details.

          But, now that you mention it and as someone else commented on the idea, I don’t find the idea of offering the adoption option particularly odious. From Jerry’s comments and from personal experience – albeit peripheral – it sounds like it can frequently be a very traumatic choice, mostly for the women involved: mostly, though not exclusively, either abortion with some not insignificant psychological trauma or some heavy-duty financial consequences along with some physiological trauma. Seems like offering the option of adoption might actually make the choice a little easier for some women. And providing choice, particularly for the women, does seem like the operative principle in play ….

          Though I do like the “forced birth advocates” label, calling a spade a shovel ….

          • Aquaria
            Posted September 11, 2011 at 5:14 am | Permalink

            Another not-bright rube. Every pregnant woman knows adoption is an option.

            Please stop acting like we have no brains. You’d see less misogynistic for it.

            • Steersman
              Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              Another not-bright rube. Every pregnant woman knows adoption is an option.

              Please stop acting like we have no brains. You’d [seem] less misogynistic for it.

              Another self-indulgent individual who has let their spleen get the better of their brain – though I suppose if they can use self-indulgence to sell cream-cheese it can’t be all bad. But you also might want to “put brain in gear before putting mouth in motion” and “shooting from the lip”.

              To repeat myself since your comprehension of the first time seems rather deficient:

              I did not at all say anything about forcing any woman to “carry an unwanted pregnancy to term”. All I was suggesting – putting the ball in court of the promoters of that amendment – is that they should be prepared to foot the bill for the consequences.

              Although, to be fair, apparently I should have, given that so many tend to go off half-cocked, elaborated a little further on that point: if the promoters of that amendment had to pay for the financial consequences, apart from any moral or legal ones, they might have second thoughts – which seems to be an urgent necessity in this case.

              As for your rather categorical assertion – you’ve polled all pregnant women and found them all knowledgeable of that option? – I wasn’t personally aware of that nor, apparently, were many others here and, given the amendment itself and that it’s apparently been tried in other States, I would be quite skeptical that it was substantially true – particularly in those jurisdictions. And, given your other comments about foster care, I can’t see that the lack of funds and foster parents would lead many pregnant women to think that it was a terribly viable option – better to abort than to subject a child to such tender “care” ….

  34. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    Some disagree:

    * Damschen, Gregor, Alfonso Gómez-Lobo, and Dieter Schönecker. “Sixteen Days? A Reply to B. Smith and B. Brogaard on the Beginning of Human Individuals.” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 31, no. 2 (2006): 165-175. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/03605310600588707

    Also see:

    When does a human being begin to exist?

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/stem-cells/#WheDoeHumBeiBegExi

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      personal.

      preference.

  35. Andrei Anghel
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    The Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel has come up with the following (I think) convincing thought experiment to intend to prove that an embryo does not have the same moral value as an actual person.

    You are in a hospital, and there is a great fire. Ten rooms to your right there are little screaming Sally and John (not Sandel’s names, I am half-improvising), each 6 years old. Ten rooms to your left there is an IFV clinic with 100 frozen embryos which could be implanted the next day. You can grab either the kids or the embryos and deliver them to safety, but there is not enough time to save all. Who do you save? Do you go left or right? Most people will say that the right choice is to go right and save Sally and John. But that is very peculiar if you think that embryos are persons. For if they are real persons, you are killing 100 to save 2, a very bad trade. The advocate of this personhood pseudo-argument does not, as far as I can tell, have a good answer for why he or she considers that we should abandon the embryos and save the kids. This entire story is not even internally consistent, which is the first requirement for something to be a useful argument. But generally the people who vote yes on this kind of resolution do not care. It is beneath them to think about such issues – they already KNOW the answer. I think that this kind of thing shows one failure of representative democracy, and suggests that a better alternative would be a deliberative democracy (where one would be faced with the unpleasant conclusion that if one supports this bill one would have to abandon Sally and John for the sake of consistency). But that is just wishful thinking. In the meantime, we are left with another type of wishful thinking, where we must hope that somehow this amendment does not become law.

  36. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I think one can plausibly argue that a genuine individual and integral human animal (which isn’t a person yet!) doesn’t begin to exist, roughly, before days 20-22 (after fertilization), when the embryonic disc begins to fold in such a way that a distinct body shape begins to appear:

    “After the end of the third week, the three germinal layers begin to differentiate and transform so that the initially flat embryonic disk develops into a cylindrical structure like a ‘C’. The folding and genesis of the abdominal wall permits a delimitation of the embryo, that can now be clearly distinguished from the appending organs. Up to this stage 9, the extraembryonic tissue went over into the intraembryonic tissue with no boundaries. The folding and the resulting formation of the abdominal wall lead to an enclosure of the mesoderm and the endoderm. They become surrounded by the ectoderm, which later forms the skin.”

    (http://www.embryology.ch/anglais/iperiodembry/delimitation01.html)

    “During the brief span of the fourth week, the embryo undergoes a complex process of embryonic folding that converts it from a flat germ disc into a three-dimensional structure that is recognizable as a vertebrate. … Folding commences in the cephalic and lateral regions of the embryo on day 22 and in the caudal region on day 23. As a result of folding, the cephalic, lateral, and caudal edges of the germ disc are brought together along the ventral midline. The endodermal, mesodermal, and ectodermal layers of the embryonic disc each fuse to the corresponding layer on the opposite side, thus creating a fish-like three-dimensional body form.”

    (Larsen, William J. Human Embryology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone, 2001. p. 133)

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      you know what the really significant event is though?

      birth.

      that’s when the mother and fetus become actually, you know, separate.

      nothing you have posted is anything other than personal preference.

      • Myron
        Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        An individual human animal begins to exist long before birth. This is true despite the fact that the unborn foetus is physiologically dependent for its existence and survival on its mother.

  37. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Did you know that the human heart begins to beat at the 21st/22nd day after fertilization? This event could be regarded as the symbolic event marking the beginning of an individual human animal.

    • Penman
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

      And me taking a colossal, protracted, and noisome dump after watching the finale of LOST could also be regarded as symbolic event.

      If you’re an idiot.

    • Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      For millennia, it was considered to begin when the baby “quickened” (came alive), that is, started kicking. So?

      My issue with abortion is preventing suffering. If the nervous system is sufficiently formed that the … can suffer from being aborted, then the benefits should be exceptional to outweigh the suffering.

      Hillary Clinton once said that abortion should be safe, legal and rare – to which I would add, and early.

      What’s ironic is how the anti-abortion folks are happy to add bureaucratic delays to the process, so that abortion is delayed and the likelihood of suffering is increased.

      • Tulse
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        If the nervous system is sufficiently formed that the … can suffer from being aborted, then the benefits should be exceptional to outweigh the suffering.

        Cows can suffer, far more so than fetuses. Just sayin’…

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      This event could be regarded as the symbolic event marking the beginning of an individual human animal.

      here’s another:

      birth.

      I like mine better.

  38. Myron
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Personhood, personality presupposes full self-consciousness:

    “How may we adjust the definition of full self-consciousness? I think it’s enough to saythat one must be able to figure oneself expressly as oneself. To be fully self-conscious is to be able to think of oneself, expressly thought of or grasped as oneself, as having some feature or other; or, equivalently, to be able to be expressly aware of one’s states or parts or features as one’s own. I think these italicized phrases fully capture the distinctive content of the specifically self-conscious way of thinking (one needn’t be correct in thinking that the parts or features are one’s own; it’s enough that one can think of things in this way).
    Another way to say the same thing (helpful to some, confusing, perhaps, for others) is to say that what is distinctive of self-consciousness is possession/deployment of the concept or thought-element I or MYSELF or ONESELF (I take all these to be the same). It’s a familiar point that possession of this thought-element allows one to think about that which is in fact oneself in a way that is unlike any other way: not as X’s daughter, or the subject of this report, or the person most worried about world water shortages, or, in Perry’s well-known example, the person leaving a trail of sugar in the supermarket, but just as—oneself: I, me, myself. It’s possible to be thinking about oneself when thinking about X’s daughter, or the person who is leaving a trail of sugar, while having no idea that the person one is thinking about is oneself, whereas one obviously can’t think of oneself as oneself and not realize that it is oneself that one is thinking of.”

    (Strawson, Galen. Selves: An Essay in Revisionary Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. pp. 102-3)

  39. Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    This debate makes sense in a male-dominance-of- reproduction view.

    – The woman is a passive vessel in service of the man’s wants to have kids
    – Once the man’s part of the process has been successful, it is now sacred, as are all the male rights over women and children, so it is the father’s “property” and given the rights as the man’s offspring.

    The woman’s wishes, or the wider communities, are irrelevant and, in fact, an illegitimate and unlawful (god’s laws) transgression on the basic man’s right to control reproduction for his advantage only.

    There is a logic to all this. Maximum male control of reproduction.

    Since most religions, especially those of the book, as hyper-male, father-centric they are tomes to how to legitimize and protect the father’s rights. Apparently, this was a big problem 2k yrs ago, thus it has been codified.

    Apparently, this still is a problem in parts of the country where male economic dominance is more and more difficult to maintain. Hence, calls to bronze age myths.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      There is a logic to all this.

      same logic as there is to slavery.

      • Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        Seems different. The logic, and likely evolutionary advantage, of male control of conception seems to come as a response to perilous competition between men for women’s fertility.

        If life is hard and competition intense for females and to have kids, guys are going to put a lot of restrictions on women — and generally enforce them with violence. This seems a characteristic of warmer climates.

        Mississippi is down right hot.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          The logic, and likely evolutionary advantage, of male control of conception seems to come as a response to perilous competition between men for women’s fertility.

          no, it’s the same.

          it’s all about control.

    • S A GOULD
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      There is only thing that the Personhood juggernaut will not do: include men in the equation.

      Laws created only punish the woman. If Personhood really wanted to protect the unborn, they would protect egg AND sperm.

      List both “parents” on a birth certificate. Never again will a child be born without TWO legal responsible parents.

      Is this intrusive, costly and a intrusion of government against individual privacy?
      Sure it is. But at least it would be more equal.

  40. Posted September 10, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, you wrote: women … hardly regard it (as many religious people seem to do) as a form of birth control.

    Did you mean that, or, women don’t take the procedure lightly, and hardly regard it (as many religious people seem to think women do) as a form of birth control.?

    /@

  41. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    For many people, on a personal level, abortion is a difficult, even wrenching, issue — with no easy answers to be found either in musty mythology books and their stories about talking snakes or in snappy lines culled from bumper stickers. What is NOT difficult at all is that the government has no business interfering with a woman’s access to abortion, at least when performed early in her pregnancy, in a safe, medically sound manner.

    I find a particular situation emblematic of the difficulty and ambivalence people experience regarding the abortion issue: A nurse I know takes advantage of her hospital’s policy permitting staff to opt out of participating in non-emergency abortions, yet donates a portion of each paycheck to NARAL, to help keep abortions legal and available.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      takes advantage of her hospital’s policy permitting staff to opt out of participating in non-emergency abortions, yet donates a portion of each paycheck to NARAL, to help keep abortions legal and available.

      well, that at least suggests there’s some level of thought there. Whatever motivates her to reject dealing with abortions as a health care provider, at least she can see the problems inherent in making it illegal.

      I still think that people in the medical profession should take their oath more seriously, but at least this person tries to balance out her personal insanity.

      wish that wasn’t so rarely the case.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

        I’m all in favor of medical professionals taking their oaths seriously, too. I hold no truck, for instance, with pharmacists who refuse to fill scripts for certain types of contraceptives (unless, of course, they’re willing to put their own economic interests on the line to stake their show of conscience).

        But abortion seems to be of a different order — at least according to a lot of folks’ intuitive reaction. And from a pragmatic viewpoint, it probably makes sense for a medical employer to respect its employees’ conscience in this regard, if for no other reason than to retain professionals who are competent in every other respect. Who wants someone participating in a medical procedure that he or she has a visceral reaction against, anyway?

        To call that reaction “insanity,” Ichthyic, seems a bit harsh, no? Unless you’re of the view that a certain amount of such insanity is inherent to the human condition. Scratch any of us deep enough, and you’re bound to find a convolved mixture of paradox, enigma, and inconsistency. That makes things frustrating sometimes, sure, but it also keeps ‘em interesting. Viva la disparity!

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

          But abortion seems to be of a different order — at least according to a lot of folks’ intuitive reaction.

          intuitive reaction = common sense = based on a reaction to personal knowledge and experience.

          that knowledge and experience can be based on RADICALLY different things, in some cases leading to rational, informed decisions, and in others entirely the opposite.

          sometimes “common sense” is anything but common or sensical.

  42. Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    “Voters in Mississippi will be given a chance to decide whether life begins at conception”

    I hate that formulation. Life began once, long ago (very very long ago). Sperms are alive. Ova are alive. Life goes on. (Ob-la-di, ob-la-da.) Anyone who is unclear about the difference between “life” and “personhood” really shouldn’t be writing on the topic.

    • Myron
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      There is a difference between human life and an a human individual. Every cell containing human DNA is human life but certainly not a human individual.

      • Myron
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        That is, human life is not the same as a human living being.

      • Tulse
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Every cell containing human DNA is human life

        Not unless one uses a rather broad notion of what it means to be human.

      • Alveno Kondyles
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        Early in development each cell has greater importance, and is closer to being the individual. As a adult I don’t mind losing a skin cell, I have plenty to spare. But if you mess with my brain cells then you might take some of my identity. Are lobotomies ethical, or good morals.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

          Early in development each cell has greater importance, and is closer to being the individual.

          for almost a decade now, we have had the ability to convert differentiated cells back into pluripotent stem cells.

          this argument about “potential” thus becomes one of infinite regress, and then, of course, personal preference.

  43. Tulse
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Remind me again — the conservatives want government out of people’s lives, right? Theyr’e the ones who thought making people have health insurance was communism, right?

    • Bluestocking
      Posted September 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      With all due respect…why are you expecting anything like logic, fairness, or consistency from these people? As far as these people are concerned, regardless of the situation, none of these things matter…because they’ve already convinced themselves that they’re utterly incapable of ever being wrong and are determined to win at all costs, so they refuse to recognize that they could ever be unfair or illogical or inconsistent.

  44. Ichthyic
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    btw, I will add that I do wish Myron would stop spamming this thread with his personal preferences.

    Myron:

    you made your point with your first post.

    I, personally, disagree with it.

    nothing you have posted has anything to do with this issue other than claiming authority for your own personal preference.

    sorry, doesn’t wash.

  45. Ichthyic
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    Personhood, personality presupposes full self-consciousness:

    In that case, we probably should make abortion illegal when fetuses turn about 20 years old or so.

    that’s about when the mind fully matures, after all.

    of course, if we did that, it would kinda make the entire issue moot, eh?

    • Myron
      Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

      You’re confusing the legal concept of a person as a bearer of rights with the psychological concept of a person. To say that something/somebody isn’t a person in the psychological sense is not to say that it has no right to live or to be kept alive.

  46. Alveno Kondyles
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Are you sure? I guess we can nickname you God! You still killed a potenial human. You took his, or her future life away. You didn’t even give them the chance that you had.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      You still killed a potenial human.

      Do you consider than when you masturbate?

      why not?

      • Alveno Kondyles
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Stay on point. Fertilized egg cell.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          why?

          you were the one who brought up potential.

          it’s entirely on point.

          look at the proposed legislation again:

          “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

          that’s certainly beyond “fertilized egg”

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      …and when we get to the point where we can clone from any cell (we can ALREADY create pluripotent stem cells from just about any cell), will you be bemoaning the potential your dandruff had as it flakes off of your blunt skull?

      • Alveno Kondyles
        Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

        No! Unless the cell has already started dividing, and multiplying.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          your skin cells do divide and multiply.

          er…

          duh?

  47. Sean
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    “Clearly, an 100-cell blastocyst does not have any feelings or thoughts (much less a soul), and to deem that ball of cells equivalent to an adult human being elides some very serious differences involving sentience. A blastocyst is no more what we think of as a “person” than an acorn is the same thing as an oak tree.”

    I have to admit that I don’t find this kind of argument from non-sentience particularly convincing. Imagine that someone you know had a stroke and was completely comatose, exhibiting no signs of cognitive function, but the doctors said they would probably wake up 9 months later and resume their normal life; no-one other than a sociopath would argue that pulling the plug would be OK.

    Not that I am a rabid pro-lifer or anything; I’m just trying to inject a little nuance into the discussion by providing an alternative viewpoint.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      I have to admit that I don’t find this kind of argument from non-sentience particularly convincing.

      I don’t either.

      It’s completely arbitrary.

      my personal preference is for birth itself to be the dividing line.

      nice clear division there, as there is no longer an immediate reliance on the mother for life support.

    • Microraptor
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

      But if someone had a stroke and went into a coma, pulling the plug would be considered an option.

    • Bluestocking
      Posted September 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      “Imagine that someone you know had a stroke and was completely comatose, exhibiting no signs of cognitive function, but the doctors said they would probably wake up 9 months later and resume their normal life.”

      This sentence strongly suggests that you don’t know much about neuroscience, since it is unlikely that *reputable* physicians would ever say such a thing. To the best of our knowledge — quantum physics notwithstanding — nerve cells in the cerebral cortex neither repair themselves nor regenerate. This is precisely what makes strokes so serious — because when blood is not flowing properly within the brain, parts of the brain can become damaged from the lack of oxygen with the result that cognitive function in those areas is impaired or lost (and in severe cases such as you describe, the person very seldom if ever regains the same level of function they had before.) If appropriate medical tests (EEG, CAT scan) indicated that the person was no longer showing *any* signs of cognitive function, this would most likely indicate that the person in question is in a persistent or even permanent vegetative state and therefore extremely unlikely to “resume their normal life”.

  48. Ichthyic
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    If you read the actual proposed statute…

    they want to vote on what defines a person.

    how is that different than what the Nazis did?

    answer:

    it’s not.

    when you allow mob rule to define who is and isn’t a person, we have ALL LOST.

    nobody learns from history, it seems.

    sad.

  49. islandchris
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Never mind the immorality of negating a woman’s rights I think this referendum could be challenged on the basis of a core lie – “This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation”.

    To redefine the constitutional meaning of person in this way probably affects a raft of Mississippi State Laws, which would probably carry significant cost implications.

    For example, if ante-bellum Mississippi had voted by referendum to amend the State Constitution and abolish slavery no one would argue that it would have been cost-free to implement. There would either have been compensation to be paid and/or enforcement to pay for.

    Someone should at least do a preliminary analysis of this – using worst case draconian logic to demonstrate how messed up this idea would be (e.g. the budget for Social Services to visit all pregnant women to ensure they’re treating their “boarders” properly).

  50. Sean
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    “If you read the actual proposed statute…

    they want to vote on what defines a person.”

    If I kill a squirrel, or a tree, or a bacterium, will I be charged with murder?

    Of course not; the concept of personhood is deeply embedded within our legal framework, because it really couldn’t not be.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      If I kill a squirrel, or a tree, or a bacterium, will I be charged with murder?

      you’re missing the point.

      what referendums like this do, is BYPASS the primary legal system in order to allow the mob to arbitrarily decide what is and isn’t a person.

      so, while you laugh, it is indeed entirely possible under such a system that at some point, all mammals might be considered as “people” by a majority, and so, indeed, you could be convicted of murder if you killed a squirrel.

      there is a REASON the US was not intended to be a democracy, regardless of how confused many Americans have become regarding the term itself (including Jerry, it seems).

      the supreme court of Mississippi should never have allowed this to be a voter issue.

      it completely bypasses the entire framework of checks and balances designed into our government by the Constitution.

      more than the issue of abortion itself, the issue of utilizing referendums to bypass representative government is destroying the very core of how the United States was intended to be as written in the Constitution.

      again, I can’t recommend strongly enough that people read John Stuart Mill.

  51. Sean
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    PS

    Gratuitous references to Nazism add nothing to the discussion, and serve only to prove Godwin’s Law

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      bullshit.

  52. Sean
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    If your objection is, as you claim, to these kinds of referenda, the reference to Nazism is a total non-sequitur (since when was the Nazis’ main problem that they were too democratic?).

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      actually, you really don’t understand what was occurring during the rise of Nazism in Germany then.

      In fact, voter participation in Germany was around 90% from the early 1900s on to the late 30s.

      suggest you read some of the actual history of this time period.

      Richard J Evans stuff is good.

      eery parallels.

  53. MadScientist
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    ” … that the state’s highest court has refused to block”

    I’d just like to say that the statement is misleading. The courts have no jurisdiction in that matter – they cannot block the referendum (no matter how stupid) even if all the judges wanted to. What the courts *can* do is act on motions after a law has been passed and strike out a law.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      yup.

      the referendum process in most states in the US is entirely broken.

      I saw it abused countless times in CA over the last 30 years.

      • Posted September 10, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        It’s frequently abused in Washington state, too, which makes each election season extra frustrating. State ballot initiatives and referenda should never have been instituted. The U.S. isn’t a direct democracy. Putting civil rights up for a public vote is extremely dangerous and can easily lead to a “tyranny of the majority”-esque situation. Ugh.

  54. Posted September 10, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    Here’s another quote from the CNN report:

    “Although our opponents were beaten in this lawsuit, we know that they will not stop in their desperate attempts to deny the obvious truth that life begins at conception and that every life deserves to be protected in the law,” said Steve Crampton, general counsel of the conservative legal group Liberty Counsel. “Not only Mississippians, but all Americans, should support this commonsense amendment.”

    Every life deserves to be protected in the law? I challenge the Liberty Counsel (which apparently doesn’t care about the liberties of pregnant women) to provide an empirical criterion for “personhood” that applies to human zygotes but not to insects.

    Where do you think the Liberty Counsel got the idea that zygotes are persons? Is it a result of extensive research in embryology and neuroscience and psychology? Hint: the Liberty Counsel’s board of directors has adopted a “Christian doctrinal statement”…

    (I’ve written about this here.)

  55. E.A. Blair
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I submit that my cats should be eligible for personhood, as they are far more sentient than a zygote.

    This is the same tired argumentum ad populum that rightwingers use to criticize climate change. “If enough people say it is so, than it is so.”

  56. raven
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    If a zygote is a person, then god is the biggest murderer around.

    As others have noted, the rate of spontaneous miscarriage is ca. 50%.

    So are they going to define god by a vote as the “Cosmic Baby Killer”. That is what that vote would mean to fundie xians.

    Wikipedia:

    One fact sheet from the University of Ottawa states, “The incidence of spontaneous abortion is estimated to be 50% of all pregnancies, based on the assumption that many pregnancies abort spontaneously with no clinical recognition.”[54]The NIH reports, “It is estimated that up to half of all fertilized eggs die and are lost (aborted) spontaneously, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant.

  57. raven
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, in other states these xian death cult personhood amendments have been tried before.

    IIRC, both South Dakota and Colorado voted them down.

    Mississippi, well who knows? It’s not like I would dare get within a 1,000 miles of the place.

  58. BeardedDragon
    Posted September 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    IMO, this will get shot down. If a fertilized egg is a person then terminating its life is murder. This, by definition, would make the pill illegal because it doesn’t always prevent fertilization. No way the majority on the USSC upholds that. Kennedy won’t go that far and would vote with the liberals on the court if the case makes it that far. It will probably get shot down before it gets that far though.

  59. Diane G.
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    (subscribing)

  60. Jimtanker
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    My question would be whether or not you could take out a life insurance policy on a zygote and if it there is a miscarriage can you collect on it?

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Good question. What happens if the insurance company refuses to accept the State’s ruling that it is a “person”? Is this legal? Is it discrimination? What will happen to the cost of life insurance premiums?

  61. Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    A huge percentage of fertilized eggs fail to attach to the womb wall and are “naturally” aborted. Women are rarely aware that they were ever pregnant.

    If this bunch of cells is considered a “person” then this would mean that the contents of every woman’s period must be scrutinized in order to detect non-implanted, people. Then what? If the contents are still alive must they be implanted in some other womb? incubated in a test tube before transplanting elsewhere? If the person is dead should they be issued with a death certificate and buried? Should the woman be charged with man- or person-slaughter? Should members of the woman’s household be charged with assisting the killing of a person?
    Since there is no limitation on the crime of murder of a person, does this mean that all people who admit to having an abortion by charged with murder and removed from whatever family they are trying to care for and look after? Should the woman’s partner and family be charged as accessories to murder?

  62. Dale Headley
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    How about voters deciding whether evolution is true or not? How about gravity? Next thing you know, the mouth-breathers of Mississippi will get to vote on whether or not black people are the equal of white people. I would love to see the results of that.

  63. raven
    Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Y’all are missing the important point.

    Half of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Which means there is a zygote or embryo dead somewhere.

    If they attain personhood, aren’t they supposed to have a death certificate? Plus a funeral and burial or cremation.

    I’m sure Mississippi will be the go to place for miscarried zygote and fetus cemeteries.

    Odd fact, under this Mississippi law, half of the “people” that die there will show “god” as the cause of death. Whatever, he’s always been known as a homicidal Sky Monster.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      If you want a loog at just how “pro-life” gid is, just go here.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        Oops – typo – “look”

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

          and “god”

      • Diane G.
        Posted September 12, 2011 at 3:07 am | Permalink

        Great link, E. A.!

  64. Posted September 11, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    The simple question is does the woman carrying the fertilized egg get to make her own decisions.

    Many say no. The man who made her pregnant and the state should force her to do what it wants.

    Pretty clear difference.

  65. Posted September 12, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    The men lose to, as do all sons, for example, if women are treated as chattel. But it is a great sales “hook” if you want to get votes.

    People always vote against their self interest.

    There is also research that childhood infections hurt early brain development and thus lowers IQ. Miss. is one of the worst states for this in the US.

  66. Posted September 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Many humans have had their genomes sequenced. It has become clear that it’s only a matter of time and technology before a human clone can be made from such a genome — or even from a new, synthetic genome inspired by one or more human ones.

    Is it murder to delete a disk copy of such a genome? It has the potential to become fully human, after all. And what of the in-memory copies that computers are always creating and destroying as they manipulate data?

    For that matter, what of shaving? All those lost skin cells and many blood cells would be even easier to turn into another human. Brushing your teeth may be even worse — you’re taking multiple cheek swab samples and spitting them down the drain.

    No, no matter what kind of squeamishness one may feel on the matter, the decision is one that only the woman can make. Hopefully, it gets made with the supportive guidance of close family, friends, and medical professionals — but that’s no different from any other elective surgical procedure.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • ritebrother
      Posted September 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure the Venter Institute is on the case. They’ve already generated a Mycoplasma strain from a fully synthesized genome. Granted, it’s only a few hundred genes, but a proof of principle, so your question regarding in silico genomes is relevant.

  67. Iris
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    While I am not advocating anti-abortion, the picture uses false analogies. Silkworm cocoon and dress is quite different from zygote and person.

  68. S A GOULD
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Make it so MEN actually bear equal responsibility for conception, then we might get somewhere. Until then, ALL of these laws are anti-women.

    • Microraptor
      Posted December 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      But, that’d be like totally playing Gawd, dude. Cause if Gawd wanted men to have babies he’d have totally like designed them that way.

      • S A GOULD
        Posted December 7, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        What was I thinking!


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] is her story out, and the man who abused her has been sentenced to prison for 20 to 30 years. Jerry wants to have people’s reflections on the issue, but in particular, what women – who stand to lose most by this bit of electioneering [...]

  2. [...] Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans vote on whether a zygote is a per­son (whyevo​lu​tion​istrue​.word​press​.com) [...]

  3. [...] [...]

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