Examine science, Bible before vote

Published 12:07 am Sunday, November 6, 2011

I have heard and read many opinions regarding Amendment 26.

Some are pro-life, praising the amendment for ending abortion; others demonize the amendment, claiming it will affect the availability of contraceptives and the function of fertility clinics, encourage murder charges for women who miscarry, and eliminate a woman’s right to choose.

These issues hinge on the one question this amendment attempts to answer for the state of Mississippi: When does life begin? This is the only issue Amendment 26 addresses. The terms abortion, contraceptive and miscarriage are missing from this amendment. In fact, it is simple in word, though mighty in implication.

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Amendment 26 attempts to define personhood, stating, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.”

To make my decision about the origin of life, I turn to two sources I trust: science and the Bible.

A unique DNA blueprint, according to the world of science, is formed completely with the fertilized egg. Immediately, the cells begin building according to that DNA’s specifications. Many things are determined at this moment, from the size of the nose to the date a hairline will begin to recede. A man’s future can be read from just one cell after fertilization has occurred. Will he get cancer? Will he be predisposed to addiction? Will puberty come early or late? Will he be athletic, brainy or both? Will he live long or die early from health problems?

In some cases, DNA even decides whether the pregnancy will end in birth or miscarriage. When do we have a right to interfere with this process — quickly? — before there is a brain, heartbeat or nerve endings to feel pain? Perhaps you, too, have read abortion-promoting articles that cite the Law of Moses. There are references to this in Leviticus and Numbers:

Numbers 3:22 (NIV)

22 The number of all the males a month old or more who were counted was 7,500.

Does this verse mean that life was not counted until a child was one month old? Consider, rather, this verse in Exodus:

Exodus 21:22-25 (NIV)

22 “If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows.

23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,

24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

Many have used this phrase from scripture, “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” Few realize that it was first used in Scripture in reference to harm done to an unborn child.

So, we come to the question we each must answer on Tuesday: When does life begin? DNA is merely a blueprint, a library — it has no will of its own. It has no power to compel. So then, on whose authority do the cells in the embryo work in concert to build what has been laid out? Who is the boss? Science has ruled out the mother or father because neither of them need be present for the work to continue. So who then? The Bible tells us it was God.

Psalms 139:13-14 (NIV)

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

If not on God’s authority, then by whose authority do the cells work? There is only one other possibility — the authority of a new living being, a unique person.

I come to these two conclusions. If you believe in the Bible, then what happens in the womb must be seen as a miracle of God. We must see His hand at work from the point of fertilization till death. Who among us would dare to tinker with God’s handiwork? If you believe in logic alone, consider the unique person acting on his/her own behalf, the person who has a life plan from fertilization to the grave. Either way, we must conclude that life begins at fertilization.

Question answered. Perhaps it isn’t the convenient answer, but it is the correct one. From fertilization to the grave, people act on their own behalf. We must conclude that life begins at fertilization.

Carl Smith

Natchez resident