CL Guest Opinion – When does life begin?

If the initiative passes in November, and if it can withstand current and oncoming challenges, it could, as proponents say, effectively plug the so-called Blackmun hole in our state.

Like most serious questions, the answer to the question “when does life begin?” is not easy to reach. But we must consider the question of when life begins in order to validly explore the efficacy of Initiative #26.

Is life “quickening” or “viability” or is it as the initiative says: ” . . . from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof?” Quickening references the development of a fetus so that it is able to move within the mother’s womb, which the Roe court believed generally occurred between the 10th week and the 4th month of pregnancy.

Viability references the ability of a fetus to survive expulsion from the womb.

Lydia Quarles is a senior policy analyst at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. Contact her at lydia.quarles @sig.msstate .edu

1/23/10