The question of when life starts has been asked in Colorado via a ballot question that wanted to define any fertilized egg as human life. It lost by a wide margin. It’s now on the ballot in Mississippi (via here):
Anti-abortion advocates celebrated a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling last week that OK’d a Nov. 8 ballot initiative asking voters whether the state Constitution should define when life begins, but the battles over the proposed amendment are far from over.
For more than a year, anti-abortion advocates and the organization Personhood Mississippi worked to obtain more than 130,000 signatures for the measure to be placed on the Nov. 8 ballot. The Personhood ballot measure would amend the Mississippi constitution to redefine “person” or “persons” to “include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”
“The medical community has really been quite clear about when pregnancy begins,” says Dan Grossman, an obstetrician/gynecologist at the University of California, San Francisco, “and that definition is that pregnancy begins once implantation occurs.”
That would be the implantation of the fertilized egg into the woman’s uterus. One reason doctors don’t consider a woman pregnant until after implantation is a practical one — that’s when pregnancy can be detected by hormone changes in her urine.
But there’s another reason, Grossman says. “It’s really only about half of those fertilized eggs [that] actually result in an ongoing pregnancy.”
The rest of the fertilized eggs either never begin dividing or never implant. Or they do implant but spontaneously abort. That can happen so early in pregnancy that the woman never even knows she was pregnant.
if Personhood USA achieves its goal, says Grossman, who also works for the reproductive rights group Ibis Reproductive Health, it could threaten the use of a long list of commonly used contraceptives, including some birth control pills and the intrauterine device.
As I noted in my earlier post, it would also call into question what women can do while pregnant and how they could be charged–if a woman has a miscarriage, will it be investigated as a possible murder? Will drinking while pregnant now be a punishable offense? If a woman has cancer, will she be able to undergo a treatment that might harm her fetus?