26 Problems

Posted: November 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

And the war on reproductive rights continues with Mississippi poised to pass Proposition 26, a ballot initiative that would declare that a fertilized egg is a legal person under the state Constitution, criminalizing most forms of birth control and fertility treatments. I’m just old enough to remember how ten years ago, an abortion ban that did not include exceptions for health and life of the mother, rape, or incest, was a bridge too far; today such omissions are standard fare in the perpetual and savage attack on reproductive rights by religious and social conservatives and reactionaries.

Shall a woman be made to provide monthly samples of her menstrual blood to test for the presence of un-implanted and fertilized eggs? What would the consequences be should such a test come back positive? Shall a woman who sees her OB/GYN because of a miscarriage be shackled to a gurney and probed to see if it’s a cover for an abortion such as is currently the practice in some South American countries? How would the state catalogue each detected case of an unfertilized egg not coming to term? Shall they each be named?

I’m not simply being inflammatory here, nor am I setting up a straw man argument. In 1965, the state of Connecticut had on its books, a statute that prohibited married couples from possessing contraceptives or any information thereof. The Supreme Court held, in a 7-2 decision, that this statute violated the right to marital privacy, and established that there is in fact a fundamental and substantive right to privacy protected by the Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice William O. Douglas wrote “Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts  of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repugnant to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.”

The specifics differ between the case of Griswold v. Connecticut and Proposition 26, but the question that presents itself here is still the same: how far is the state willing to go to enforce such statutes? Which methods of enforcement are too revoltingly invasive?

How far is Mississippi willing to go?

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