Vote: Should personhood start at fertilization?

Anonymous ASSOCIATED PRESS This microscopic photo shows eight cloned embryos that are currently in the eight-cell stage each, released by … Continued



This microscopic photo shows eight cloned embryos that are currently in the eight-cell stage each, released by Seoul National University in Seoul Thursday, Feb. 12, 2004. Researchers in South Korea for the first time have cloned a human embryo and then culled stem cells from it.

Mississippi residents are set to vote next week on Initiative 26, the personhood amendment to the state’s Constitution.

The amendment would define the word ‘person’ as starting at ”the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

Activists on both sides of the abortion debate agree that a vote yes by Mississippi’s residents would have profound consequences for the state’s women and the fetuses they carry.

On Faith asked our expert
roundtable to weigh in on the personhood initiative and its potential consequences on abortion and birth control in the United States.

Make your view heard by voting in the poll below. How would you vote on Mississippi’s initiative?

Elizabeth Tenety
Written by

  • hacksaw

    It’s a brilliant marketing idea for the international tourism industry. Come to Mississippi, get pregnant, and your fertilized egg is automatically a US citizen. Awesome.

  • lennyp

    I prefer the biblical definition as per King James, Cambridge edition,Genesis 2:7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

    Or, in simpler terms, a baby becomes a “living soul,” aka person, when he takes his first breath as per god and not before. If one believes in the inerrancy of the bible, than one must follow the biblical definition the requirement of “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” before becoming a “living soul” and vote against the idea that a non-breathing fetus, at any stage, is a person.

  • hoochacooch

    Hell no. I’ve had 8 abortions and I haven’t talked to one of those babies. How could they possibly be humans if I couldn’t talk to them?

  • DaveHarris

    If Republicans think a brainless cell, which they wouldn’t even recognize through a microscope, is a “person”, then they’re going to have to admit that Mexicans are “persons”, who might be entitled to a few rights as well.

  • DaveHarris

    If you’re going to start declaring microscopic cells to be “persons”, why stop at a fertilized ovum? Sperm and egg cells only have half as many chromosomes, but since few Republicans know what those are anyway, why make an issue? A yeast cell has about 80% of the same genes as a human cells. A chimpanzee cells has about 98%. Is a monkey a “person”, or a yeast cell? How many genes to you have to have to be a person? Even if you artitrarily limit the definition of “person” to a fertilized human ovum, what about all of those in the freezer? Surely, it’s a crime to keep a person in a freezer. Never fear, Republicans will tell us what to do.

  • stephenpellegrino66

    NO! Roe vs. Wase is settled law. Why do the conservitives tout less government involvement with our personal lives except when it comes to other people’s lives?

  • LovingDad95

    A few things for you to consider….

    While the SCOTUS has ruled on Roe vs. Wade as well as other related cases, it is far from settled law or people wouldn’t continue to argue about it today. There are two basic arguments:

    1. Does the US Constitution grant the Federal Government power to rule against states with regards to abortion? Some people believe not. Also note that granting this power to the Federal Government actually increases government involvement in lives rather than reducing it.

    2. When does the right to an abortion conflict with other rights (i.e., the rights of the unborn child). This is where the greatest source of contention lies. Although the original RvW ruling established a test based on trimester, this was ultimately replaced with a ruling allowing abortion up until the point of viability, including by artificial means. With the success of the “test tube baby” and the ability to move an embryo from one womb to another, the point of viability argument becomes a bit fuzzy. Opinion falls all over the place with the percentage in favor of allowing abortions increasing as the number of weeks into the pregnancy gets lower.

    You also need to keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there who believe that life does begin at conception and that any abortion is murder (hence the Mississippi initiative). You don’t have to agree with this, but you shouldn’t assume that it’s completely settled either.

  • LovingDad95

    Except the quote you pulled up only applies to the FIRST man, Adam, who never spent any time in a womb and wasn’t actually born. Your attempt to turn the Bible back on people who use it to argue against abortion was rather pointless.

  • jv26

    This is just a ploy to get the issue before the SCOTUS. No one should be surprised that Bible-belters will vote in such an issue. It’s their opportunity to thumb their noses at the educable elsewhere–their current version of Rising Again. They may be surprised to see out-of-state college applications plummet, and in-state graduates leave for more-tolerable states, taking their brains and money with them. And who do Mississipians think will stay to increase the population? What journalists haven’t documented is lack of adoptions, and who gets left behind. In a state barring adoptions there should no unadopted kids at all, and none in foster homes. No politician or fundamentalist preacher should be without several adopted kids, regardless of color or condition, and not because they are running Bachmann-style government-funded homes. Well, journalists, go see what the real picture is.

  • candle1

    dad: Well then please show us in the bible where abortion (NT would be nice, too) is discussed so that we can find a more relevant chapter/verse to guide us.

    It might save you some time to know that it’s not there.

  • renfieldc

    Those who wish to change the Constitution are are suffering severe constipation; Idiots!

  • rmkraus

    who are the ignorant? those (81% in the poll thus far) who don’t know why they are here on earth . . . . those who don’t know natural law . . . . those who don’t know the reason for the sex act . . . those whose sole goal in life is self-indulgence


  • scribeslave

    This reminds me of the games Congress plays. The Real ID Act was buried in a defense spending bill that was needed. Here, I don’t believe this us good with the phrase “moment of fertilization”. If that become law abortion would become murder. However, it does open the concept of cloning, which I believe will come in the future, as people.

  • DonnaMariaInChicago

    There’s a difference between potentiality and substantiality. A fertilized egg is no more a person than an acorn is an oak tree.

    Sperm and ovum are necessary requirements to create a human, but are not sufficient. If we’re going to eliminate some of the necessary elements to create life (e.g., a woman’s womb and seven to nine months), why not charge men with murder for masturbating? Sure, you need more than sperm to create a life, but you need more than a fertilized egg also, so why are women being targeted?

    This push to endow personhood on a fertilized egg is nothing more than one more attempt to legally control a woman’s reproductive rights.

  • elizdelphi

    May the souls of these 8 children, by the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

    Mother, God loves your babies. He knitted them together in your womb. He knew them hidden there, and had plans for their lives. He loves you too and wants to show you mercy. Be chaste! If you cannot care for a baby there will be some other loving family who will adopt him or her. Children deserve to be loved.

    I am praying for the babies some readers of these comments are carrying. There is a way for moms to keep their baby or give him or her for adoption, there is help and there really are people who know it is tough and who care. Even if in the past you aborted, choose life now, choose love.

    Your mom chose life, thank God!

  • elizdelphi

    Personhood simply does start at fertilization (or cloning or the equivalent as it says). That is the start of the distinct person, physically miniscule at first but known individually by God who gave him or her life, with the cooperation of the mom and dad. Children have a right to be loved by their parents. They have a right to protection. It doesn’t start at some later distinct point but is the right of the child from the beginning. If it’s not the right time to get pregnant, then some sexual abstinence is in order. Birth control is not the solution, this was a miserably bad social experiment of my mom and grandma’s generation, that has decimated married family life by facilitating sexual irresponsibility and immorality, and selfishness within marriage. Broken homes, kids without dads, out of control pornification of the culture and practically all media, flourishing of every kind of perversion and excess, and of the mass phenomenon of abortion as many make a radical “choice” to kill rather than love the child they’ve already conceived.

    Respecting every person, even the little ones in the womb, protects human values even while it necessitates morality, sacrifice, self control and responsible love (these are also eminent human values).

  • cricket44

    No, of course not. Let’s hope the sanity reflected in the poll results so far is echoed by what happens in Mississippi so women there aren’t turned into two-legged incubators.

  • Bhawk1

    Will women have to constantly prove that they are not pregnant? Can a bar tender escape punishment for sell a drink from a pregnant woman? How about the drug companies that sell meds–how much will it cost to show they aren’t harmful? Will BP be liable if some babies have brith defects? Now they all face criminal penalties. Doctors will face criminal charges if a miscarriage occurs, its his responsibility.

  • persiflage

    Bizarre stuff – the cult of the fetus is alive and well in Mississippi, officially a 3rd world nation-state if Proposition 26 actually becomes law. Superstitious religious beliefs are a peculiar basis for secular laws, but there you have it.

    On the other hand, it will never hoild up under SCOTUS review, but it says something rather disturbing about the voters of Mississippi.

  • ProudlyCatholic

    When else would it start? At birth? After birth? 2 weeks before birth? Since babies can survive outside the womb at 24 weeks should that be the time of personhood? If so what was it the day before?

    Deep down everyone knows that a person starts at conception. Human embryos become human babies. They don’t become carrots, cougars or chameleons. The DNA they possess is that of a human being.

    IN this politically correct age of self-indulgence an unborn baby is only considered a person if it is wanted. So you can be sued if you harm an unborn child that is wanted but if the baby is unwanted you can safely dispose of it. Talk about Doublethink ! “1984” left out so much that is wrong with modern society.