On Tuesday November 8, 2011, voters of Mississippi will decide on a state constitutional amendment that would redefine the definition of a person, extending it to a fertilized egg. This would provide all the rights of a person to an egg from the moment of conception, making abortion and some contraceptives such as the 'morning-after pill' an act of homicide. Basically, this was initiated a couple of years ago by a man named Les Riley who resides in Mississippi with a wife and 10 children. His purpose comes from his religious beliefs, explaining that, "Because Christ loved me when I didn't deserve it, I love my neighbors, born, unborn, mothers, even our enemies," quotes CBS News. He needed some 89,000 signatures to get it onto the ballot, and accrued over 106,000 certified signatures.
Clearly, proponents of this cause argue that at its core, this is a matter of moral. Life in all of its beauty and complexity, should not and can not be left in the hands of men (gender neutral) to decide upon. Here is a link I found to an article written by an obvious Christian who sums up many of the biblically based arguments Pro-Life advocates habitually use. Largely, they refer to quotes in the bible such as this one where Yahweh proclaims to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5), or when Yahshua states, "Listen to Me, O islands, And pay attention, you peoples from afar. Yahweh called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me." (Isaiah 49:1). The author of the article I linked above writes this, "Many Christians believe that the Bible is silent in regard to God's view on life before birth. Although the Bible does not specifically define when life begins, it does give us enough information to formulate a solid biblical position." I will leave this alone for now, but I have a serious problem with this. Lastly I will mention, that should this law be passed, the children conceived of rape would also be considered persons and pregnancies would not be allowed to be terminated. This of course, is a large point that the opposition bases its own arguments.
Opposition to initiative 26 fear that this legal definition of personhood would complicate many already complicated situations such as rape, incest, and ectopic or dangerous pregnancies. In the CBS article I linked to above, a testimony is given by a woman who was raped 20 years prior at her university campus. She did not become pregnant, but is troubled by the thought of an alternative where this initiative was passed and she had to carry her rapists child. Often Pro-Life advocates will say punish the rapist, not the child like Les Riley's statement "We don't have the death penalty in Mississippi for rape. Why would we punish the rapist's child?" I fail to see however, the justification of abortion based on the lack or presence of capital punishment. Further opposition to initiative 26 comes from a medical perspective, though there are practicing medical professionals on each side of this. Many believe that the judgement of wether or not a pregnancy should be terminated should be based solely on the opinion of medical care professional and the parents, based on knowledge of the risk involved, not judges and legal officials. Interestingly, both gubernatorial candidates for the next Mississippi election are in favor of the proposition.
I first heard of this situation while listening to NPR about a week ago, and as I listened I found my self considering the conflicting opinions at the heart of this argument, and really tried to conduct my examination unbiasedly. Be brave now as I go through this, be open, and visit this not in your intellect, but in your deepest place. That is what I tried to do, and what I want to do with everything- allowing my intellect, my heart, my emotion, to be an expression of a fundamental truth and not a mask of it. So what is that fundamental truth here? Well, to be honest, at first I looked at this situation through my emotion and intellect. Religion instantly irritates me, and to hear another Christian using the bible to argue a point against something so immense yet so personal truly made me angry. So I delved into my shelves of knowledge, pulling up files that agreed with the scientific reasoning proposed by opponents of 26. Then I felt a strong regret, almost ashamed. Did I just entertain the idea of advocating abortion? Was I considering that man had the right to determine the future of an unborn child? Then my emotion took me further, and all I could feel was that regret, and my brain began to get fuzzy and I remember all of those videos I'd seen at various religious gatherings I had been to. "The bible says..." and then I paused. I could not say why until today, but I did pause, and I asked Yahweh in the car, almost tearful, "when does a human have life?" What he said to me was, "There is life when I give life." Nobody dictates His creation but Him. No doctor, judge, or religious zealot has that authority, and if His people would listen to Him then they would not need to fear the loss of life unnecessarily. If a woman must deal something with such an incredible gravity as to consider the fate of possible life conceived within her, what would be more desired than the voice of the Creator to say whether life was there or not? I know that my God and his power is bigger than the joining of two haploid gamete cells in a woman, and that His sovereignty certainly extends beyond words within some 66 books of a 'closed' cannon. And in the same way, He is not commanded by the product of His own creation. I know it is a difficult truth to consider, but I will not simply condemn something because the bible has been translated to prescribe that condemnation. I based my opinion on that of the Father who rejoices in the life He gives as much as He has entire control over the life He gives.
This vote will go on, and there is a strong chance that it will pass. If it does, there is going to have to be a lot of follow up legislation to protect the mothers involved, and to filter the blanket statement that abortion is murder to make it amenable to the unavoidable uniqueness of each pregnancy. In the end, there should be only one filter. That filter is Yahweh.
In a much lighter kind of news, I had a very interesting fortune cookie today:
I have been claiming success every day, and I believe at least for the time being and for this season I am supposed to, and maybe forever. It's so true, that even fortune cookies know. I don't like to take meaning out of every single little thing I see, but then again, Yahweh can speak through anything and everything- and I believe this was, if not with a sense of humor, a reminder of a promise.