CI-102, a 2010 Montana Ballot Initiative

September 22, 2009

Well, it appears that the hardcore anti-abortionists are at it again.  They want to define a person as a human at any stage of life or development, from the fertilization of the egg onward.  Specifically they’re going after the Due Process clause of the Montana State Constitution.

The full text of the CI-102 Ballot Initiative can be read here.

First, the definition of person in this initiative:  “CI-102 amends the due process section of the Montana Constitution to define “person” as used in that section to include every human being regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction, from the beginning of the biological development of that human being.

Section 17 of the MT Constitution reads: “Due process of law. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

In searching for a good definition or explanation of Due Process I’ve discovered that it’s fairly vague, but seems to boil down to fairness.  A simple explanation can be found here, though it is not specific to Montana.

So if a fertilized egg is a person, it cannot be deprived of life (or liberty or property, but we’ll come back to that) without due process of law.  Does that mean that anyone wishing to have an abortion would have to request legal permission to proceed?

It certainly does. That’s exactly what these folks want to accomplish. If they cannot outlaw abortion outright they will continue to seek to  make it as difficult and burdensome as possible.  That this directly conflicts with a woman’s right to privacy is of no consequence to them.  And what happens when the rights of the mother and fetus are in conflict?  In those instances where the continuation of the pregnancy could kill the mother, how does the law decide which “person’s” rights to uphold?

Beyond the obvious, this amendment could have some pretty drastic consequences.  Planned Parenthood of Montana has posted about the issue here, focusing on privacy rights. And really, this isn’t all that different than 2008’s CI-100, which failed to gather enough signatures to make it to the ballot.  You can read a really well titled 4and20BlackBirds post on that initiative here.

Many of the same issues that could be seen with CI-100 also apply to CI-102.  If a person cannot be deprived of life without due process, and legal personhood begins at the moment of fertilization, what happens when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy?  Or a miscarriage?  Would miscarriages have to be investigated? Could charges be filed if a woman was found to have been less than perfect in nurturing her unborn child?

And moving on to the rest of the wording. Would fetuses be able to own property?  And what about liberty?  What exactly constitutes liberty when still inside the womb?

The proposed amendment is dangerous and more than a little potentially ridiculous.

I truly hope that Montanans will decline to sign this petition when they are presented with it.  Please spread the word and remember to always ask for the details of whatever petition you’re being asked to sign.  Petition gatherers can be fairly creative in finding ways to make their petition sound like the sort of thing any sensible person would support.

Remember, miscarriage is NOT murder.

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