We've reported fairly extensively on Mississippi's Initiative 26, a proposed constitutional amendment that would redefine life as beginning at the moment of conception. What sort of maniacs believe this superstitious and oppressive amendment is a good idea?
Salon's Irin Carmon traveled downriver to speak with several Mississippi personhood advodates. On her journey through the belly of the Personhood beast, she chatted with several passionate devotees to the cause of defining zygotes as fully realized people and discovered that their ideas are just as frightening as you'd imagine and that outlawing birth control is their real aim, not just ending abortion. So what did the zygote zealots have to say?
- Zygotes are literal, actual humans. Exactly the same as me and you.
Carmon spoke with Alex Strahan, who passionately defended the implications that Mississippi's Initiative 26 would have on IVF.
If you harvest 10 eggs and you implant three and you throw away the other seven, you're aborting seven children. You're aborting seven humans. You're killing seven humans. So do it the right way and don't kill children.
- Eggs are the same as children, you see. Just like how eggs are the same as chickens, and if you barbecue them, they're delicious.
- Rapists' kids are thankful to be alive, therefore all women who are raped should be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.
Irin's horrific journey brought her to Dr. Freda Bush, an anti-choice, pro-personhood advocate who swears that Initiative 26 won't ban hormonal birth control (except it kind of will) or IUD's (which Bush, an ob/gyn, won't provide for her patients for "moral reasons"). Bush thinks rape victims should stop whining about being pregnant and Think of the Children.
Bush is smiling, too, in the video she made to support as restrictive an abortion ban as any state has voted on, Initiative 26, or the Personhood Amendment, which faces Mississippi voters on Nov. 8. "It doesn't matter whether you're rich or poor, black or white, or even if your father was a rapist!" she trills.
- Women weren't hurting themselves before abortion was legal, and the illegality of abortion won't lead to any back alley shenanigans.
Dr. Bush told Irin that any ideas that more women will die from botched abortions after it's made illegal in Mississippi is silly.
Pressed, Bush said, "Look at the numbers of women who were injuring themselves [pre-Roe] in an attempt to have an abortion. It was not 53 million," the estimated number of abortions since Roe v. Wade.
- And even if there were 53 million dead women as the result of botched abortions, it would be sort of like they were executing murderers, right?
- Speaking of murder, it should almost go without saying that personhood advocates want women and doctors to be prosecuted as murderers.
Ed Hanks was another stop on Irin's Southern Horrorshow Tour. He's got some pretty interesting thoughts on the subject. Even women who are raped or impregnated by their immediate relatives should understand that they're stuck incubating a baby, and if they try to do something about it, they're murderers.
He wrote on the Personhood Mississippi Facebook page that after abortion is banned, "the penalties have to be the same [for a women as well as doctors], as they would have to intentionally commit a known felony in order to kill their child. Society isn't comfortable with this yet because abortion has been ‘normalized' - as the Personhood message penetrates, then society will understand why women need to be punished just as surely as they understand why there can be no exceptions for rape/incest."
- A zygote is a person, but a female reporter is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Personhood advocates sure do seem confused. Carmon writes that when she arrived in Mississippi, Personhood advocate Les Riley, who had refused her multiple interview requests, accused her of having ill intentions via Initiative 26's public facebook page. After that, another member of the group posted,
"This is just a reminder of some of the ‘Neutral and Fair' mainstream media that are trying to lure us into debate, argument, and confrontation," Wiley S. Pinkerton wrote on the same page, not long after. "They are coming to this site hoping to catch us without the full armor of God."
- Does the armor of God protect against wolves? Does it come in zygote sizes?
- God is the best protection against pregnancy.
Les Riley thinks that if only abortion were outlawed, a whole host of Mississippian problems would be solved, especially unplanned pregnancy. Another attendee of a town hall meeting to discuss the measure agrees, saying,
"I know there is an issue with pregnancies, unmarried pregnancies, but I tell you the greatest prevention is God, and we've got to return to God."
- If God doesn't want unmarried women to have children, why doesn't he install magical buttons into them that automatically render them fertile when they want to be? Can God cure other stuff too, besides pregnancy? Only the Personhood advocates know.
- Let's hope Initiative is just an elaborate effort on the part of Mississippi to turn their entire state into a terrifying pre-Halloween horror show, because what's coming out of the mouths of Personhood advocates is scarier than anything Wes Craven has ever cooked up.
- The next front in the abortion wars: Birth control [Salon]