by Max Brantley
It's worth reading up on the current campaign in Mississippi to pass a "personhood" amendment that will not only outlaw all abortion — including for rape pregnancies — but also outlaw some forms of birth control. Use of a morning-after pill, because it could prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, would be considered murder by the Mississippi amendment. The proposal, which has been beaten in Colorado, raises any number of terrible questions — about ectopic pregnancies, for example, and in vitro fertilization.
A long court fight lies ahead for this measure if it does pass, as is expected. But it's on the agenda of radicals in other states and it can be expected to be high on the list of those similarly inclined in Arkansas. After that, then what? They'll probably come for rubbers and birth control pills.
Arkansas's Amendment 68 already has a "personhood" flavor in its language that the policy of Arkansas is to "protect the life of the unborn child from conception until birth to the extent permitted by the federal constitution." It's not a stretch to see success of the Mississippi amendment in court as basis for an argument that Arkansas law must reflect that broad mandate.
UPDATE: A sharp reader informs me I'm behind the times in predicting a similar movement soon in Arkansas. It's here. Preston Dunn of Blytheville filed papers Sept. 23 for formation of Personhood Arkansas. It will advocate a state constitutional amendment establishing "personhood" at conception and give that person "all rights under the state Constitution." Full rights to a microscopic speck creates an encyclopedia full of knotty legal problems. The committee hasn't reported money raising yet.