Remember those folks who were pushing an amendment in Mississippi that would have defined the one cell fertilized egg as a full blown person with all the same rights as a living, breathing, thinking Mississippian?
They want to get an initiative on the ballot to make it a law that a fertilized egg is a Californian.
You can read the Legislative Analysis of the proposed initiative here. The Initiative itself can be found here (warning PDF).
Let me repeat that, but as a question.
Is a fertilized egg a Californian?
No, I don’t believe so and I’m confident that the vast majority of my fellow Californians agree with me that a fertilized one-cell egg is not the same as them. It should not have the same rights.
A fertilized egg is 1 cell and I just don’t see how a single cell, no matter how special, can be a person.
The reality is that a single cell or even a little round ball of a few dozen cells (the blastocysts made during and left over from IVF) is not a person.
I’ve said many times that if you give human rights to cells then real humans must in that equation lose their rights. There is no way around it.
These extremists want to give your rights as Californians to cells.
Who are they and why are they doing this?
We are trying to find this out, but it is a fairly safe assumption that the people who want to take your rights away and give them to cells here in California are connected to the folks who tried to take away real people’s rights the same way in Mississippi and in Colorado. It is notable that in both those cases, the efforts failed and even in Mississippi, which is one of the most conservative states, the vote was not close. The extremists are reportedly trying again in Colorado, where the vote was a blowout against the effort previously. One rumor has it that the Family Research Council is involved, but this is not definitely the case. The California effort is reportedly driven by the “California Civil Rights Foundation” and the face of the movement is Oakland Pastor Walter Hoye. Hoye reportedly turned down requests to describe the financial contributors behind the effort.
Whoever is funding these efforts, the bottom line is that they want to take away some of the meaning of human rights of real Californians and give them to cells.
You might think this is ridiculous and you might, most likely rightly, think that if such efforts failed miserably in two far more conservative states that in California they will never succeed. However, don’t take your rights for granted. The people behind these efforts may be extremists, but they are smart, patient, pragmatic, and have a lot of money. Don’t underestimate them.
Their immediate goal is not to get these initiatives and amendments passed. Rather they are making a concerted effort to legitimize the radical notion that a fertilized egg is a human being. They rightly calculate that if they continue to propose such measures that the media will take them seriously and repeat their ideas for them, and that over time that their position will be considered more seriously. Hoye was quoted by SFGate that:
“The more of this conversation that we have, the stronger the pro-life movement becomes”
Unfortunately, he’s right.
Why should you as a Californian or even a non-Californian care?
The personhood movement is an attack on real people.
If it passes, then some forms of common birth control would be illegal, women might be thrown in jail if they have a miscarriage, and stem cell research could be illegal leading to scientists being thrown in jail….and just more generally real humans beings will have less rights.
What happens next? Hoye, et al. try to gather 807,000 signatures by April to qualify for the Nov. 2012 ballot. Their success in signature gathering largely depends on how much their secret money givers are willing to spend, but it is likely they will get the measure on the ballot and fortunately it will fail.
But unfortunately they still “win” if they gradually convince people to consider their ideas even a bit more seriously.
What we really need to be doing is taking care of the real people we already have including children. That seems to be something that the person-hoods and even many Republicans (think Romney saying that corporations are people) seem to lose track of these days. Real people need help and rights.
(note: of course this is a very serious issue, but I appreciate humor even in challenging times and I think comic artist Matt Bors nails one important element of this personhood issue perfectly with this comic you can see on his website. Please support him with a small or even a large donation if you can. I just gave him a $5 donation this morning.)