Dear Mississippi

If you pass MS 26, then I will never be able to visit your lovely state, because I take a low-dosage birth control pill to manage my PCOS, which is a serious disorder for which there is no other treatment. Even though I don’t take it to prevent pregnancy – my PCOS pretty well does that on its own – I guess I would not be able to fill an emergency prescription there if I lost my pills, so I dare not bring my tourist dollars to you.

If you pass MS 26, redefining life as something that can be possessed by someone who can’t breathe on their own, has no measurable brain function, and no heartbeat, then there will be an awful lot of live people in your cemeteries. I know it sounds absurd, but that’s because MS 26 is absurd. It is quite possible to write laws that distinguish between a pregnant woman electing to terminate a pregnancy and a third party trying to kill the pregnant woman and/or her baby for his/her own murderous purposes. Other states have managed this. It’s a very simple distinction: the fetus is entirely dependent on the woman’s body for its life, but not at all dependent on the third party. The relationship between fetus and woman is complex; the relationship between a third party and a woman and/or the fetus inside her is clear-cut.

If you pass MS 26, you are inviting rapists to pursue their paternal rights if they learn their victims have given birth. This means a rape victim might never be able to end her relationship with her rapist, because he would always have a legal connection to the child you forced her to bear. And even if she escapes that by having the child adopted, the child would be in grave danger if the rapist got custody of him or her. Think rapists don’t want their children? Yes, they often do, or at least they’re willing to use their paternity rights to force contact with their victim. Of course, abortion isn’t the only solution, but there is no legal solution. To fix the problem of rapists pursuing their paternal rights, you would have to pass a law which forces courts to accept every claim by an alleged rape victim and deny the named father any rights at all. That, of course, is legally absurd. If a woman needs to abort the offspring of her rapist to make certain he will stay out of her life, then she deserves that right. If you think differently, you are saying that rapists are more valuable than law-abiding women.

If you pass MS 26, you are ignoring the fact that sometimes babies kill their mothers, if you want to look at it in those terms. It’s not deliberate, of course, as babies lack the brain skills to form an evil agenda. But the fact is, giving birth sometimes kills, and medicine cannot always save the mother without aborting/killing the fetus/baby. If you pass MS 26, you’re saying that a woman’s life has no value, and a baby is always more important. After voting for this bill, please do make a point of visiting the family of a woman who died in childbirth, and tell her other children – now semi-orphaned – that their mother was unimportant and without value and they shouldn’t miss her. Because that is what your vote is saying, if you think about it.

That’s the thing, Mississippi. Don’t vote for this because it suits you emotionally. Don’t vote for this because you think abortion is wrong. Think. Prove to the world you’re not the stupid hicks you’ve been stereotyped as (and I’ve read some of your views on this, so I know you’re not). Prove that you can think critically, because this ludicrous Personhood USA group is counting on you voting with your emotions and not your brains. They are using you.

Comments

  1. says

    For many of the people backing these bills, whether they know it or not, I think a lot of the things you describe are Features, not Flaws. They are the actual consequences they are pursuing– extra rights for me, at any cost, even if they are rapists. Women as property & incubators, again, at any cost– as long as the people paying the price are women. You mention the people being used & I think that is true for a lot of the voters, but lets not forget that the people DOING the using know what they are doing.

  2. says

    To fix the problem of rapists pursuing their paternal rights, you would have to pass a law which forces courts to accept every claim by an alleged rape victim and deny the named father any rights at all. That, of course, is legally absurd.

    If you don’t mind my asking, what makes this idea “legally absurd.” To me, it seems that this victims’ rights idea is seems implementable, if culturally and politically revolutionary, making it far, far less absurd, from a legal standpoint at least, than the proposed constitutional amendment.

  3. minuteye says

    Tablesaw,

    I think the issue is in “accept(ing) every claim by an alleged rape victim”. Given the standard of evidence, many rapes can’t be legally prosecuted, even with the best effort in the world. In order to ensure that a rapist would never have access to a child they produced through rape, you would have to cut off parental rights to all accused rapists, not just convicted ones. This would clearly be a system with horrific potential for misuse.

    If abortion is an legal, however, than a woman who has been raped and impregnated always has the option of cutting off all legal obligation to be in contact with her rapist by choosing not to have a child. Perfect? No, but it certainly has the effect of putting power in the hands of the rape victim without imposing draconian laws about parental right termination.

  4. says

    Tablesaw,

    What Minuteye said. The law definitely needs to do a better job of taking victims at their word and investigating every case properly. But that’s very different from automatically believing their claims without investigating or seeking corroborating evidence, and then curtailing the rights of the person they’ve accused. If you told any large group of humans, “We will automatically curtail the rights of anyone you accuse of burglary”, quite a few of them would abuse that.

  5. says

    mordicai,

    I may be optimistic, but in my experience, every prejudice is the result of a small minority of dedicated haters backed by a big bunch of followers who really haven’t thought it all through. What you say is absolutely true of the haters, and nothing we can do will change their views, but I think they’re a minority. If the real haters were a majority, they’d be on CNN proudly saying, “Look, women are getting out of hand. We need to rape them a lot and make them have our babies.” But they know that doesn’t emotionally resound with many people, so they use, “We must save the unborn!” to get followers emotionally attached to their viewpoint. If you get the followers thinking, many of them might realize, “Huh, this goes a lot further than saving the unborn.”

  6. MaggieCat says

    I’ve been sick, and therefore managed not to even hear or read a whisper of this. I can’t believe someone managed to find a way to out-stupid South Dakota’s misogynistic WHHLPA debacle — Please tell me this is a fever hallucination.

  7. KLeecat says

    This bill frankly terrifies me. But it doesn’t surprise me that MS lawmakers created it. I was visiting with a woman I love very much as a mother/grandmother figure yesterday, she was annoyed because ads & political phone calls are lying & saying the Gov voted no on the amendment. (happily i avoid those calls as I have no home phone). I said, I love you nanny but I vehemently disagree with this amendment and it is probably best if we don’t talk about it. She is an intelligent woman, business owner, & matriarch of a large family–yet she doesn’t see how overbearingly intrusive this measure is on all women.

    I can only hope voters discover a tiny bit of intelligence and vote no on Tuesday. But knowing how thinks usually go here in MS, I’m dubious. I don’t understand why more women aren’t blazingly angry at how a government made up of a majority of men, white ol’ Southern men, are asserting control over our bodies, our lives, our health, and matters that should be between me & my personal doctor. It’s insane especially in a state with the highest level of teen pregnancy, high-levels of STDs and an abysmal record of offering quality sex education.

  8. Grizzlyclambert says

    I am very discouraged when I read comments on webpages or in forums that intimate that Mississippians must somehow “discover a tiny bit of intelligence” to vote against legal measures such as Initiative 26 which are obvious scams. My wife and I currently live in Mississippi, and I was born and raised here as well.

    I will not try to defend our history or our populace in this state as under-reported or misrepresented. I only wish to state that when Mississippians are characterized as dumb, uneducated, or easily fooled when initiatives like this come to national attention, I become angry. My anger is founded in my belief that mocking a group of people for past transgressions is not the correct way to express an outsiders opinion of an issue that affects that group.

    I do not know what you may or may not have read about Initiative 26 in Mississippi. No doubt any liberal or conservative group whose views you subscribe to have published their opinions on it. Here is the link to the official flyer that was published by the Mississippi Secretary of State after the announcement of three initiatives inclusion on the November 8th ballot: http://www.sos.ms.gov/page.aspx?s=7&s1=1&s2=84

    The text of all three initiatives was posted in every polling place in the state. Even if a voter deliberately did not inform themselves of the actual language of the proposed amendments, they could have read the initiatives in their entirety while waiting for a booth.

    Mississippians rejected Initiative 26. 57% of those who cast a vote on the measure were against it. The discussion about the measure has not ended, but I believe this is a good thing. I believe the only way to stop those who would take away our rights is through constant vigilance and honest discussion. There is a premium on “straight talk” here in the South. When people here recognize a source that only deals in facts rather than rumors or hysteria, they tend to listen. I only wish I could see the same tendency elsewhere.

  9. says

    To everyone: I asked Grizzlyclambert via email if s/he had read my article to the end, since I specifically stated that I know the stereotype of “stupid hicks” is false and encouraged Mississippians to prove that – which they did. S/he clarified that this comment was not in response to the article, but rather to KLeeCat’s comment.

    Honestly, I should have said something in regards to that comment: if you think Mississippi people need to “discover a bit of intelligence”, I have some very powerful people in the film industry you never want to meet. Most of what we think of as “stupid” in this culture is not a lack of intelligence but a failure to apply intelligence. Neither anti-abortion voters nor Mississippians nor Southerners have a monopoly on that, much as our culture assures you they do.

    Mississippi defeated this bill pretty soundly. Meanwhile, ever-progressive California, home of San Francisco and gay pride, refuses to let gays marry. Something to ponder.

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