“Personhood” amendment defeated

November 9, 2011 • 3:23 am

Ceiling Cat has blessed us!  Not only has Mississipi’s “personhood” amendment been rejected by voters (you’ll recall that that measure would have defined a fertilized egg as a “person”), but voters also nixed other conservative ballot measures as well.  Those include an anti-labor law in Ohio that would have weakened the right of public employees to engage in collective bargaining.  And Maine approved same-day voting registration at the polls, a measure opposed by Republicans.

Further, in Arizona voters recalled (i.e., threw out of office) state senate president Russell Pearce, architect of that state’s notorious law “SB 1070,” which gave law officers the right to snoop into people’s immigration status without any provocation.

I’m happiest about the defeat of the “personhood” amendment, which could easy have spawned a bunch of copycat legislation throughout the US (several similar measures are already in the wings in other states). But if it’s defeated in conservative Missippi, there’s hope elsewhere.

And look at the sneakiness of the Catholic church:

“The message from Mississippi is clear,” Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “An amendment that allows politicians to further interfere in our personal, private medical decisions, including a woman’s right to choose safe, legal abortion, is unacceptable.”

The push for a personhood amendment split the country’s anti-abortion movement. Traditional leaders including the Roman Catholic bishops and National Right to Life opposed it on strategic grounds, fearing it would lead to a United States Supreme Court defeat and set back to their efforts to chip away at abortion rights.

37 thoughts on ““Personhood” amendment defeated

  1. ÇWhat Keenan said caught my attention: “An amendment that allows politicians to further interfere in our personal, private medical decisions, including a woman’s right to choose safe, legal abortion, is unacceptable.”

    While this is good news, it’s depressing that a pro choice advocate has to give a conservative argument (hurr keep big government off mah back!) in order to defend abortion rights. Is that really how far to the right America has moved?

    First, there should be universal healthcare. Second, universal healthcare should cover abortion, especially for ectopic pregnancies and dangerous cases it should be a no brainer. Are these two points impossible to even talk about in current America?

    1. Actually, those on the left in America tend to support more government restrictions in economic/fiscal matters and fewer government restrictions in social matters, e.g. who you have sex with, whether you abort or continue with a pregnancy, what substances you put in your body, etc.

      So, that argument is not really out of place.

  2. Favorite quote from a news article about this:

    “Farrah Newman, an ophthalmologist who is seven months pregnant with her third child, said she voted in favour of the amendment.

    ‘I am a mother and a female and a physician and a Christian,’ she said. ‘I have researched this and found nothing strong enough to negate my conviction that someone is a person at conception.'” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/09/mississippi-voters-reject-anti-abortion-amendment)

    She should collect all her “research” and publish it as a Ph.D. thesis for a theology degree.

      1. Yeap, and then it said — upon the second cell division there exist the Father, Son, HolySpirit, and the Constitution. I hope she didn’t spend a lot of time on the research when a dictionary definition could have solve her query.

  3. The (unexpected) good sense of Mississippians pleases me; but I live in Arizona, and the recall of despicable racist Russell Pearce has me over the moon.

  4. Given the typical citizen’s knowledge of biology and of the law, I feared that the Mississippi initiative would pass. [minor point – I think JC typed Arizona instead of Mississippi in his final paragraph]

    1. Yes, a glitch. I’ve fixed it, thanks! And I, too, was pretty sure it would pass. I sense here the paw of Ceiling Cat.

      1. I saw an interesting poll on this question on Daily Kos yesterday, based on the answers of Mississippi voters that indicated the amendment vote would be close.
        Slightly more women than men opposed the amendment and significantly more democrats than republicans opposed it.
        The most suprising thing to me was that African Americans (generally very conservative on religious questions) were strongly opposed to the amendment – indicating that the proposal may have been viewed as social legislation rather than religious.
        “Men (48-42), whites (54-37), and Republicans (65-28) support the proposal. But women (42-46), African Americans (26-59), Democrats (23-61), and independents (35-51) oppose it. “

        1. But, if I understood correctly, both the Republican (of course!) and the Democrat (oy vey!) running for MS governorship endorsed Amendment 26.
          Is that so?

          Surely no electoral tactics came into play. Just passionate care for the sanctity of the human person, as long as it does not require healthcare, education, a healthy environment and a viable economy.

          If the Democrat really supported Personhood (or Person Hood, i.e. the extension of the hijab to the germline), it would Yet Another Example in the vein of The Onion’s satire about the Debt Ceiling, requiring “Tough Concessions By Both Democrats And Democrats Alike”:
          “Lawmakers from across the political spectrum — from moderate Democrats to the more liberal members of the party to dyed-in-the-wool progressives — reached within the aisle and showed the nation that compromise requires real sacrifice from everyone.” Obama added that while it may look ugly at times, politics is about Democrats giving up what they want, as well as Democrats giving up what they want, until an agreement can ultimately be reached.

          1. I think you are correct that both the republican and democrat governorship candidates claimed to be in favor of the amendment.
            I think that demonstrates two things.
            First, that it is still the case that candidates for high political office think they have to outdo each other in public claims of religious piety.
            Second, that the results of this poll in the most religious and most economically deprived state in the US indicate the public themselves are nowhere near as religious as the candidates. Perhaps we are getting close to a point in time when public proclamations of religiosity are not going to be deemed necessary (or, as in the case of European politics, deemed a dreadful faux-pas.)

  5. This is good. I think Ohio has a similar personhood vote on the next ballot.

    I’m also glad the Ohio collective bargaining law, known as SB 5, is repealed. There was a huge outcry from most people when they passed that law, but when you vote in a republican like Kasich for governor, what do you expect?

    There was so much rhetoric from conservatives in Ohio about how teachers are too privileged and earning too much. Because, you know, you become a teacher to get rich quick.

    When SB 5 was first passed, Kasich also hired some new staff, one for almost $200k, he was asked why so much. He said it’s necessary to pay high to get the best talent. Why not use that argument to get the best teachers and police?

    I talked to a friend who is on a school board about this. He said limiting bargaining rights is ridiculous, it’s not like they can get more than their fair share out of the government. Government funds are public information. They come to the table and say this is all we have, and they know it.

    I don’t have kids, but I want to pay teachers more.

    1. I don’t have kids either, but if we want to live in civilised and generally pleasant societies, education has to be priority. Trying to do it on the cheap has not worked very well.

  6. 70-80% of fertilized eggs are naturally aborted, do not attach, are ectopic, or so deformed they don’t survive after birth. Who is responsible! If we can’t blame humans for these terrible and ongoing tragedies, who can we blame, God?

  7. Maybe humanity has some hope yet seeing that humans have defeated such nonsense.

    Knowing that many Christians will have prayed for this amendment to pass, I wonder what their multitude of excuses will be in that their prayers failed yet again.

    1. Either God’s will was defeated by Man’s will as usual, or it was really God’s will for this amendment not to pass all along.

  8. I was watching Shepard Smith yesterday on Faux News and he was interviewing the Mississippi governor Haley Barbour about this amendment. Shep questioned whether a 14 year old rape victim would be accused of murder if she terminated a pregnancy. Barbour said yes, the life of the unborn must be protected. One could tell that Shep was astounded by this statement and he asked all Mississippians to read the amendment and think carefully before voting for such a law. He also was upset that out-of-state groups bring stuff like this to MS because they see MS voters as patsies for ultra conservative measures. He stated that he was annoyed because this made his state (Shep is from MS) look ridiculous.

    You know that you’re really out there if your conservative proposals don’t get support from Faux News anchors. I’m beginning to think that Smith would rather work for another network.

    1. He probably will be soon if he keeps that up. The out of state group that promoted the amendment, PersonhoodUSA, an evangelical group from Colorado, has petition activity going in all 50 states and will probably have the amendment on the ballot in 3 or 4 states next year. The goal seems to be to get one passed so that it can get to the Supreme Court and try to negate Roe.

      1. I fully support a total ban on abortion in the USA. I plan to get a job in one of the detention camps women will have to reside in before they are allowed to travel outside the USA. We can’t have them smuggling zygotes out of the USA in their wombs so they’ll have to wait there for a month to be tested for pregnancy. I wonder if we can charge a fee for an extra suitcase like the airlines do?

      2. PersonhoodUSA tried this stunt in Colorado a couple elections ago. Their amendment went down in flames, even in the very socially conservative Colorado Springs area. The fact that it was pretty resoundingly defeated in MS gives me hope that the other states they’ll try this in will defeat it.

    2. Shep Smith is the token “liberal” (and by liberal I mean center-right) at Fox. MSNBC has a token conservative as well, but his name escapes me at the moment.

  9. I think a zygote is clearly not a person. But as an atheist, I still think we should consider certain rights for potential humans (not the same rights as humans). After all, what’s wrong with killing a person, bedsides denying them potential life?

    For me it’s also different with stem cells, since they aren’t really potential humans, since they’ll never come to term whether we do research with them or not. Also, as opposed to the Catholic Church, I think in vitro fertilization sacrifices zygotes that aren’t going to come to term anyway to create a life, and is therefore not morally objectionable.

      1. No, I stated what I believed was the basic reason why killing is wrong. In my opinion that reason is that you are denying them any future (potential) life.

    1. Seriously? You can’t think of even one reason for not killing a person, except potential life?

      As you have completely ignored the mode of incubation and sustenance, I must assume that you own an easy bake oven with life support function?

      Why haven’t you specified unfertilized eggs and sperm as potential life?

      I suspect you are building your position based on your familiarity with the christian gods rather than from an understanding of what is actually happening biologically. While fertilization is an interesting part of the process, it isn’t significantly different nor more interesting than other parts of the process including the development of the eggs and sperm.

      1. I can think of other reasons, but their are few (such as violence, causing pain to the family), but, in all the cases I can think of, I can imagine a theoretical person or mode of killing for which those reasons do not apply. But it would still be wrong to kill that person. In any case that would be the most important reason.

        I find it surprising that other atheists are willing to use a similar argument to show how meaningless it is to say that jesus “died” for us, since he lived on anyways.

        Now I think the counter-example of sperm and eggs is a better point. But considering the relative probabilities of them becoming human versus a zygote becoming human, even when considering spontaneous abortions, it seems a zygote is much more important.

  10. 6 Reasons Mississippians Said No to “Personhood” Amendment

    6, 5 … 2)

    1.) The forces who brought Personhood before the public insulted the intellectual and cultural sensibilities of thousands of Mississippians. They assumed Mississippi would be a cake walk. They provided grandma’s 1970’s abortion language that didn’t speak to many younger, yet conservative, Mississippians. They were sloppy in their organizing and flippant about their opposition; condescending. Their official Personhood website looks like my child’s 4th grade class designed it.

  11. Mr. Barbour said, he had supported the measure because he believes that life begins at conception.

    Life began about 3.5 billion years ago, since then it has not stopped.

  12. Great day for America, even if there is a long way to go! There is still as semblance of sanity or practicality even in the deep South.

    But depressing that the family values GOP apparently wants a serial groper to be its standard bearer with enthusiastic cheers.

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