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Suit challenges personhood initiative in Mississippi

July 15, 2010

According the the Clarion Ledger, a suit has been filed by two Lafayette County (i.e. Oxford) residents, Deborah Hughes and Cristen Hemmins, to block the personhood initiative that is to appear on the ballot as a constitutional amendment in Mississippi in 2011. The personhood initiative seeks to define life as beginning at conception.

Here are some gems from Robert McDuff of Jackson, who is one of the attorneys who filed suit:

If a fertilized egg were entitled to due process, some doctors might fear that someone might sue them for the impact of a fertility treatment or for lifesaving measures that may be necessary when a woman suffers a miscarriage.

Who died and made you Nostradamus, Mr. McDuff? Anything in the “if . . . some . . . might” sentence structure is completely indefensible. E.g. “If [grizzly bears grow wings] some [discrete and insular minorities]  might [get eaten].” Well then sir we must stop it, and now!

Certainly there is more than is betrayed by the news story but this point is of exactly zero legal significance as there is no injury in fact. See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife. Also it is stupid. There is absolutely no reason to think that the standard of care that doctors are already held to would be altered in a meaningful way. Miscarriages happen just like patients die. Wrong legs are also amputated on occasion, and doctors who shred fetuses should be subject to the same liability as those who hack of good limbs.

McDuff said redefining the word “person” would be a substantial change and could lead to government interference in the doctor-patient relationship.

Illogical fear-mongering? Mr. McDuff is serving it up family style folks. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds but from what I have seen this suit cannot pass Lujan as nobody has been injured and it is quite a strain to say that something going on a ballot in 16 months poses an imminent threat of injury. Unless of course one of these women is expecting and boasts a pachydermal gestation period.

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