Editorial: What’s in a uterus?


As The Journal staff gathered to publish this week’s issue on Tuesday evening, voters in Mississippi waited to hear the result of their state’s uteruses.
Personhood USA, based not in Mississippi but Colorado, brought Initiative 26 to the ballot Tuesday. The initiative sought to define personhood as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof” and effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade.
Ah yes, abortion. It seems to The Journal that Americans return to the pro-life, pro-choice debate when times are uncertain and frightening. Like a warm blanket, we can always rely on the abortion debate to more clearly define our similarities and differences. Or maybe it’s the upcoming presidential election.
Either way, The Journal feels both unqualified and uncomfortable taking a stand in this never-ending moral question. But we do have some concerns should Initiative 26 pass.
For instance — this new initiative could prohibit a woman’s access to emergency contraceptives such as Plan B. And any miscarriage that results in irresponsible behavior could result in a trial for negligent homicide. Can a pregnant woman claim the unborn fetus as a dependent on her tax forms? And since Mississippi law requires all “persons” to be counted when drawing up voting and congressional districts, how will unborn fetuses be calculated?
Supporters of the initiative say these are ludicrous concerns from liberal cynics trying to discredit family values. But, ignoring the obvious implications of outlawing abortion in the state, extending personhood to the womb is complicated.
In vitro fertilization stands to suffer, since the process often results in more than one fertilized egg. Doctors who dispose of unused eggs could be put on the stand for murder. And traditional contraception, like the birth control pill, can affect fertilized eggs as well as unfertilized ones, effectively making regular women into murderers.
Even the bishop of Mississippi’s Episcopal Diocese have reservations on a “pro-life” initiative, and Mississippi catholic organizations have rejected the amendment as “going too far.” So perhaps we should stand back and assess.
Thankfully, 57 percent of Mississippians voted against Initiative 26 Tuesday evening. More than 254,000 voters made it clear that they had reservations about making such a drastic change. The vote mirrors a similar initiative that failed in Michigan.
Florida and Ohio have personhood initiatives in the works for 2012. The Journal only hopes the groups pushing for these ballot issues recognize the trend against legislating the real estate of a woman’s uterus. Generally, Republicans support these personhood measures, and the party of protecting the rights of business should be more dedicated to the rights of people.
If big business has rights, so do women. Keep government out of corporations, and keep them out of our sex lives.

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