The fallout from Proposition 26 has been very revealing. The measure was defeated by a sizable majority, and there are various theories as to just what was its downfall. “Overreaching” seems to be the consensus explanation, but I think the problem is more basic. It was seen as overreaching because it implicated a variety of issues and practices that the average “pro-life” Christian was not prepared to question. Almost everyone in the great state of Mississippi is “pro-life.” It’s really quite polite to be so. But it is a much smaller percentage who are willing to condemn abortifacient birth control, and still fewer of that group are ready to say that certain advances in “reproductive technology” violate the natural law. Perhaps, and a bit more understandably, legal “personhood” is also too difficult of a concept to apply to entities that do not yet exist within the immediate jurisdiction of the state.
While I supported Prop. 26 and am still convinced that it was a morally justified position, I am willing to have the conversation about each of these issues. From my own perspective, I am convinced that the ethical questions will always have a singular answer, however, the prudential political questions may vary depending upon our context and ability. Still, what I saw more than anything else was a failure on the part of the citizenry to articulate clear principles and to explain why they would support one practice yet condemn another. We did not have our first principles in order, nor did we quite know how the law ought to work in support of those principles.
Because of this, I would like to have an extended conversation about these matters. I want to examine those principles, as well as ask certain key questions as to why people think and decide as they do. Continue reading