Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Personhood' Amendment On Colorado Ballot

NPR ran a broadcast about a new item on the Colorado ballots about defining 'personhood'. I'm surprised this amendment hasn't been proposed already. According to the broadcast it said that Colorado was the first state to get enough signatures. Are you serious? How did this of all amendments not get first created (and passed) in the Bible belt?

Regardless, the arguments brought against such an amendment (in my humble opinion) are lame. The many arguments are this would make us rethink all of our laws. Well duh. We've lived with Roe v. Wade for how many years now? I'm sure its bound to have impacted the writing of MANY laws. Regardless of this change the arguments brought against this amendment seem weak. For example, one person said: "what about HOV lanes?" Simple, if the person is occupying a seat then you qualify. Since the baby occupies the same seat as the mother, you don't.

But that was a weak argument. What about something like: "what if you drink without knowing you were pregnant or did something to kill the baby accidentally?" First, it would be hard to prove that drinking or some other action was the direct cause of the death so the case would likely be dismissed but even if it could, is the child not entitled to rights? The argument is the same as "what if I drive at night and hit a pedestrian I didn't see on the road?" It's called manslaughter. Oh no! we can't take responsibility for our actions because remember the baby is a parasite that invaded us first! /sarcasm    

The other argument brought forth is about frozen fertilized eggs. This one would obviously require some more legal work but lets think about this another way. Babies can't think or act for themselves but neither can mentally handicapped people. How do we treat them? We can spin circles around this argument all day but it would take some good work to convince me otherwise.

Lastly, one guy pointed out that it was unconstitutional! What does that even mean? Of coarse it would contradict existing law, that is the whole point! People act like once a law is written it can't be changed (at least not if the law plays to their interest).


Andrew M said...

There was a good one on NPR's discussion:

"So, if a woman is carrying twin embryos, and one reabsorbs the other, is the remaining fetus charged with murder? This is ridiculous. You can believe whatever you want about when 'life starts', but a cluster of cells in a woman's uterus is not going to care about what rights it has under Colorado state law. It's probably more concerned with growing arms, legs and organs.

–Jeff Parfitt (sirjeffius)"

I personally don't believe that the question of when life begins should be enforced on others. Originally I believed that life began at conception, but lately I've been leaning toward "when the fetus can live on its own". In any case, I don't think it's an issue that should be codified into law. Maybe that's my inner Libertarian coming out. :P

While not directly related to this amendment, this clip from the Daily Show expresses views I partially agree with relating to abortion/women's right to choose, starting around 2:45:

Definitely one of the defining issues of our time. I can't wait for it to be resolved and go the way of slavery and birth control: away. :)

Jim Powell said...

Thanks for the comment Andrew. That is an intriguing argument. It might also be argued that it couldn't be murder because there was no malicious intent. Manslaughter maybe, but this would most likely fall under something like survival cannibalism.

I would also counter argue about the fetus's concern for its "rights" are somewhat irrelevant as it could also be said of mentally handicapped patients. Does a concern for one's rights nullify them?

I'm not sure this issue will be resolved anytime soon though as it bears much weight on how we handle many other issues such as embryonic stem cell research. My concern is the logical progression these sorts of things can lead to. E.g. growing clones for spare parts, or injecting brain dead people with viruses to determine cures or study their effects.

I tend to agree with your libertarian side too though. Codifying it might be more problematic due to the great difficulty of trying to define morality by logic.