14 February, 2007

Papers, Please

It would appear that I'm somewhat late to the party. Stacey Campfield wishes to issue death certificates for aborted babies/fetuses.

I'm no stranger to this line of thinking. As a member of several infertility support groups I've watched people have funerals, make Christmas ornaments and celebrate birthdays for chemical pregnancies.** I've watched lonely and sad women mourn the loss of "little Noelle Hope, who was with us for only 4 days before returning to heaven." I've also decided in short order that these perhaps weren't the support groups I was looking for. It's very easy to dwell on what is lost, and to elevate a lost thing above the pain of the ordinary.

I'm no stranger to the two lines of thinking about pregnancy. Either it's a pre-born baby or it's a fetus who is not yet attained personhood. How you approach that line of thinking informs where you stand in the debate. I get that Campfield is of the "its a baybee [or however he spells it]" frame of mind. I don't care to start that debate here.

What I do care about is why on earth a government person thinks they need to get all up in the everyday business and private pain of individuals. Why they need to create more red tape. Look here, Campfield. Tennessee government has its hands full. The last thing you need to do is gin up more work for them.

But I do have a question. Let's say that through Campfield the government considers the pre-born to be persons.

Does this mean tax deductions for the child in gestation? Will the federal government give up a half-year of taxes (~$1300) to every pregnant woman? I'll believe in this as more than a privacy-violating stunt bill if and when this gesture is made. Yes, I realise Campfield isn't bending the ear of the federal government with this. But as my fellow conservatives seem to believe that this buffoonery passes as an eloquent statement, perhaps they'd like to get some more mileage out of it.

As has been pointed out elsewhere by others who generally stand on the opposite side of the overall debate from me , this is not a pro-life/pro-choice issue. This death certificate business is now a privacy issue. Because the unborn has no status as a citizen apart from the mother, issuing a death certificate necessitates an enquiry into the medical habits of the mother. It is wholly different from issuing a death certificate for a person who has engaged in the traffic of citizenship. After all, the purpose of a death certificate issued by the state is not to get a warm fuzzy tribute to the fact that "this person existed." It is to serve as notice to all engaged in commerce with said citizen that the citizen is no longer an active member of the community.†

Issuing a death certificate for an individual who was never an active participant in society in their own right is as odd a concept as deciding that we should forthwith issue certificates of death for all the Swiss who die, just because we're so crazy about the Swiss and want to acknowledge THEIR wonderfulness as people. It's bureaucracy for the love of governing and an insane abuse of power. Please bring back the limited-government conservatism I subscribe to, and do away with this clowny facism. Thank you.

** (A chemical pregnancy is one where the female hormones are high enough to register as "pregnant" on an early pregnancy test, but where the egg never implants in the uterus. Almost all women have them. Only those trying very hard to become pregnant and spending hundreds of dollars a month on very early pregnancy testing realise that they've been 'technically' pregnant for 3 or 4 days before their period starts.)

† Yes, I am well aware that we currently issue death certificates for infants. However, once born an infant is an acknowledged legal entity who has participated in society as a citizen. Hence tax deductions, immunisations and hospital bills for the birth. Parents and guardians assume legal responsibility for citizens of a minor status, but this does not negate the citizenry of the child.


At 8:04 PM, February 14, 2007, Blogger Ginger said...

That is a great post, my dear! I hope you are feeling better...you've been in my thoughts.

At 6:22 AM, February 15, 2007, Blogger Slartibartfast said...

Campfield is a buffoon, and I am very angry at him for pulling this stunt.

The underlying subtext is a serious issue, and I'd say I actually agree with him to an extent. There is a certain sociopathic element to the way we assign personhood.

But the argument would take a week's worth of posts to build correctly, and thanks to Campfield, the environment has been poisoned to the point that there is no room for reasoned discussion on this.

Like I said at B's, I hate when someone who is not capable of handling it stumbles across a Truth. Might as well give him a loaded revolver.


At 10:40 AM, February 15, 2007, Anonymous nm said...

I dunno, Slarti, there are or have been lots of societies that "assign personhood" (I like that phrase) differently than you do. (In fact, our own society mostly defines personhood differently than you do.) Most of them have been stable, long-lasting, productive of great individual and communal achievements. So I'm not sure that you ought to be calling them sociopathic just because they have come to different conclusions than you about when personhood begins.

At 5:19 PM, February 15, 2007, Blogger theogeo said...

Katherine, this is a great post. Thank you.

At 4:24 PM, February 16, 2007, Blogger TVonthefritz said...

I'm lovin' it! Every second of it!


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