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Criminalize Abortion, Stem Cell Research, and the Birth Control Pill?

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For a glimpse into a Republican Religious Right wishlist, check out Amendment 26, in Mississippi.

Does Mississippi need more troubles? This is one of the most impoverished states in the nation. Of the 100 poorest counties in America, 14 are in Mississippi. In this Republican-controlled state, dominated by the Religious Right, Mississippi schools have the third lowest test scores in the nation. Infant mortality is tragically high, as is teenage pregnancy -- with all respect to its hard-working citizens, Mississippi might be described a failed state.

Things are about to get worse.

November 8, Mississippi decides if fertilized human eggs are more important than full-grown people.

Here is what voters will confront in the ballot box: Amendment 26 would:

"...amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word 'person' or 'persons' ... to include every human being from the moment of fertilization..."

Every fertilized egg would become a "person" with full legal rights.

This is nonsense. When a woman has a heavy menstrual flow, that often means she is shedding a fertilized egg -- does that mean a human being just died?

What's next? Are we supposed to have a little funeral for the contents of a tampon?

Sadly, this is no joke. However ridiculous it may seem, the consequences of Amendment 26 may be deadly serious.

Amendment/Initiative 26 is premised on what may at first seem a reasonable goal: to end abortion.

But like Prohibition, which sought to end alcohol use and instead gave us organized crime, unintended consequences may be devastating.

In addition to the back alley abortions which will happen, and which will take women's lives, there will also be financial costs: a flood of lawsuits, both from those seeking to expand the new powers, while seeking to block them. Legal bills must be paid by Mississippi, which can ill afford them.

But lawsuit costs are the least of our worries.

Consider just a few of the problems Mississippi's people will suffer:

First, the law is cruel, allowing for no exceptions. No pregnancy may ever be terminated: not even the incestual rape of a minor.

After this horrendous attack, the woman (or girl) would required by law to bear the child of the rapist; if she chose the "morning-after" pill to end the pregnancy, she would, according to the undeniable consequences of the law, be subject to prosecution for murder.

What about a pregnancy which endangers the life of the mother? Again, no exceptions are listed.

A miscarriage could be investigated like a crime scene, to find out if it was an abortion. Supporters of 26 deny this would happen, but, according to Salon, "in countries with absolute abortion bans, like El Salvador, women are regularly investigated and jailed when found to have induced miscarriages."

Many forms of birth control will be criminalized, including very likely "the pill".

Does this make sense?

What business of big government is it if an adult woman chooses to take birth control pills?

The In Vitro Fertility (IVF) method of assisted childbirth will be cripplingly restricted, if not outright banned. Why? When a childless couple tries the IVF method, mixing sperm and egg in a petri dish, they usually end up with 15-20 blastocysts, from which they choose 2-3 of the strongest to implant. The others are either frozen (child abuse if the biological tissue is considered a human being) or flushed away, which would be "murder".

And the embryonic stem cell research may one day help my paralyzed son stand up from his wheelchair? Out of the question. Stem cells might cure millions are made from IVF blastocysts, biological tissue that would otherwise be discarded.

Amendment 26 would chill the advancement of biomedicine, an industry with good-paying jobs, and a hope for cure for suffering millions.

As the name implies, embryonic stem cells are cells -- not children, cells.

To make a child out of the contents of a petri dish is biologically impossible.

This is the personhood issue, which supporters hope will be a national Constitutional Amendment.

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 8th of November, it will be up to the citizens of Mark Twain's state to decide.

As Mississippian Dr. Randall S. Heines put it:

Amendment 26, if passed, would turn over many issues which had been between patient and doctor, and give them to the courts to decide. Do we really want the government intruding on so many of our private decisions?

For more information go to http://www.votenoon26.org. Give them a buck if you can, the opposition is heavily funded and organized.

There are important ads that could still be funded, with a few dollars from us. For instance, former Governor Haley Barbour, one of the most conservative right-to-life Republicans in the country, says he has "concerns" about Amendment 26.

As should we all.