Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life vs. Personhood

I've been speaking with people about this recently published article. Mississippi has been debating this law, apparently, and now its up for a vote. The problem is, the outcome could mean serious issues legally. The law is about giving the unborn rights as a person from conception.

The problem with this, as the article points out, is that it can mean legal mayhem and will likely mean that a lot of things will be made illegal, not just abortions but also many forms of birth control. Essentially, the law would completely eliminate a woman's right to her own body.

My issue with personhood from conception is that it makes no medical sense. From a medical standpoint, there is evidence to say that there is life at conception, but that that life does not constitute a person. In my view, life begins at conception, but personhood begins at viability. The issue of personhood vs. life is important because our laws are written in such a way that giving a handful of cells the rights of a person becomes very problematic.

A person is one that is able to live independently, or that can make a conscious choice about their lives. A bundle of cells can do neither. So, it follows that it's not a person. However, we say trees are alive, even if they are not consciously aware of that or are able to make decisions. They can live independently of another living thing, and thus are considered living. That is why a bundle of cells can be considered life.

This is an important point to make, and I hope it comes to this in the debate. If the purpose is to limit the number of abortions, then why not fund sex education that teaches kids how to be responsible? Otherwise, all the legislation in the world won't stop abortions, it will just push them into being illegal and make them much harder and much more dangerous to get.

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