Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ill-"Conceived" Mississippi Policy Proposal Could Outlaw Birth Control Pills

I don't know what's up with me and the puns in the titles as of late - I swear it will wear off soon.

Anyway, fresh off the presses, ThinkProgress has the details:
Next Tuesday, Mississippians will go to the polls to decide on Initiative 26, a personhood amendment to the state constitution that defines a person as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.” Personhood amendments represent an extreme reach into a family’s privacy, essentially criminalizing abortion and potentially outlawing common forms of birth control.
Right-wing supporters of Mississippi’s personhood amendment, however, decry the fact that the bill will ban birth control as “scare tactics.” “It’s an outright lie that Initiative 26 would ban birth control pills,” said American Family Association Executive Director Brad Prewitt. “Stopping a pregnancy is not the issue; ending a pregnancy is.” Unfortunately for proponents, the Personhood movement spokesman Walter Hoye stated the opposite on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. As the Florida Independent reports, when asked if there were any restrictions on birth control in the amendment, Hoye answered “no…well, yes,” adding, “any birth control that ends the life of a human being will be impacted by this measure,” including the pill:
HOYE: Any birth control that ends the life of a human being will be impacted by this measure.
REHM: So that would then include the IUD [intra-uterine device]. What about the birth control pill?
HOYE: If that falls into the same category, yes.
REHM: So you’re saying that the birth control pill could be considered as taking the life of a human being?
HOYE: I’m saying that once the egg and the oocyte come together and you have that single-celled embryo, at that point you have human life, you’ve got a human being and we’re taking the life of a human being with some forms of birth control and if birth control falls into that category, yes I am.
Well, this is obviously one of the worst-thought-out policy proposals ever, then, especially when you add the fact that this would outlaw many forms of in vitro fertilization as well, which usually involves the creation of 50+ embryos and then picking the few fittest embryos and implanting those while discarding the rest - which would count at 45+ murders under this proposed policy.

Though this is a REALLY extreme example, it is just yet another example in bad, unintended consequences of laws. Dear citizens and politicians - we really need to think through the consequences of laws more thoroughly and deeply than we currently do.

Of course, an alternate explanation is that the proponents of this law are aware of this consequence, so it's not actually unintended - and that their real goal is to try to outlaw non-procreative sex under the guise of this supposedly anti-abortion policy. I've read arguments to that effect - i.e. that policies like this are a not-so-subtle attempt by a small group of people to exert extreme control over women's sex lives. That's certainly a possibility.

However, if that's the case, then perhaps they should be trying to require all women to take the pill, as it seems that the pill has negative effects on both women's sex drives and the quality of the sex they have.

But I digress. If this policy is put in place in Mississippi, I predict that the following will happen:
  1. Since pre-sex contraception will be harder to come by, post-sex contraception (i.e. abortion) will become MORE prevalent among Mississippians, not less prevalent, though I don't know whether those abortions will be illegal abortions performed in Mississippi or medial tourism abortions performed in nearby states.
  2. Lots of Mississippians will travel to nearby states to get prescriptions for their birth control pills. The big question is - if they go to their doctors in Mississippi and tell them they're on the pill, will the doctor be required to inform the Mississippi authorities that the woman might be committing "murder"? How far down this rabbit hole are we going to go?
  3. As with many similar policies, the people who will be most hurt by this are the people who are already the most vulnerable - poor women in rural areas.
Some of you out there might say, "but the pill prevents ovulation, so there's no embryo to destroy." Well, that's true, but the pill also thins the wall of the uterus, preventing an embryo from attaching itself, in the event an egg slips out and is found by a sperm cell. If I were a creative Mississippi lawyer and so inclined, I'd use that (together with this new policy) to outlaw the pill in the state.

I hope this referendum fails, but since it's going to be a low-turnout election, the most extreme voters will have a larger say than they normally would. If it passes, I guess that's just one more reason I have for never, ever, ever going anywhere near Mississippi.

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