Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Personhood Amendment Really Bothers Me

Amendment 26 in Mississippi would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person.  This really bothers me.  People talk a lot about liberty in this country but few seem to have any real understanding what it means or what the basic roots of our rights are.  Fundamentally, liberty begins with our spiritual and moral autonomy.  We each have an intrinsic right to discover for ourselves what is moral and decide on fundamental questions such as when life begins, what is our purpose here, what happens when we die, etc.  Freedom of conscience, freedom to decide for ourselves moral and religious truth, is the wellspring from which all other rights flow.  Seeking to define the fundamental questions through law cuts off liberty and autonomy at its source.  That anyone would seek to cut off one of the central mysteries that defines moral and spiritual liberty in the country that first instituted political liberty is something that I find absolutely appalling.

While it is true that questions like this do need to be decided by law, the only way to do this that does not infringe on extent rights and liberty is to allow traditional norms to persist unaltered, in this case, life begins at birth.  An individual is of course free to decide for themselves that this is wrong, but seeking to change the legal status is a sin of commission rather than omission.  Tradition must hold on these matters because there is no alternative, the question must be decided but no human being has sufficient spiritual and moral insight to decide these questions for another.  To me, this is as much a violation of intrinsic liberty as banning all faiths in favor of one and the establishment of a national church would be.  Deciding impossible questions such as one life begins is the root of moral and spiritual maturity, having someone else decide these things for us condemns us to being children.

This may sound strong, but I see this as evil.  There's simply no other word for it.  This would get me out in the streets if this were proposed here.  It's vile, it's a threat to intrinsic liberty and rights, and it threatens the very foundation of an individual's right to seek to live a moral and spiritual life.  These questions are part of the fundamental journey towards enlightenment we are all on, no one has the right or insight to impose answers to these questions on another, much less the state.

If someone wants to ban abortion, ban abortion.  Don't tell me that I don't have the right to decide basic spiritual and moral questions for myself though, I find it deeply insulting, tyrannical, and a violation of the basic principles of liberty, democracy, and religious faith.


  1. Well, Roe V. Wade means if you really want to ban abortion you have to go around your elbow to reach the thumb. But I agree that infantilizing adults is a strange way of protecting children.

  2. Doug, that is true, but I doubt this method could stand up to a constitutional challenge with Roe V. Wade. Abortion opponents have had some success with incremental reforms already, such as the partial-birth abortion ban, and this seems a better tactic less fraught with moral and theological landmines. There's some places you just shouldn't go for any cause.

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