This is why we can’t have nice things

Posted on Feb 4 2013 - 7:00am by Lacey Russell

When was the last time you saw a centaur roaming the streets of Oxford? Or a mermaid hanging out in the Grove?

For anyone not on hallucinogens, the answer is never.

However, that didn’t stop a Mississippi state lawmaker from introducing a piece of legislation last week that was straight out of a Syfy Channel original movie, a proposed ban on all human-animal hybrids.

Rep. William Tracy Arnold (R-Booneville) introduced HB 819, also known as the Protection of the Human Person Act.

The bill seeks to outlaw any experimentation that would fuse human embryos and animal DNA.

However, the bill, in a rare show of empathy for those affected by freak accidents out of a comic book, only seeks to outlaw intentional experimentation on human embryos.

As Brian Eason of The Clarion-Ledger explained, Spider-man, the result of an accident, would be still be safe under this legislation.

While this may seem to be one of those ridiculous laws like bans on dwarf tossing in Florida or walking ducks on a leash in Pennsylvania, this bill has a far more insidious purpose.

Instead of merely outlawing the scientifically absurd principle of human-animal hybrids, it also seeks to further restrict access to abortions.

Much like the failed “Personhood” amendment from last November, this bill seeks to define life as starting at the moment of conception.

HB 819 would also impose fines and felony charges on any doctor who performs abortions in the state.

Mississippi is a state in crisis.

We have crushing poverty, failing schools and abysmally high rates of teen pregnancy.

The state consistently ranks among the worst in the nation for a whole host of factors.

The improvement of these conditions is inextricably linked to state legislation that is passed and then implemented by our state representatives.

Instead of working to ameliorate these problems and elevate Mississippi, these lawmakers find it far more important to attempt to legislate morality.

It seems like the legislature’s concern over the citizens of Mississippi begins at conception and ends at birth.

Being pro-life shouldn’t end at birth. If the life of a child is that important to the legislature, then that child’s quality of life should also matter.

This translates to better schools, better opportunities and more attempts to relieve poverty.

There is a tradition in this country of expanding personal rights and freedoms as the times change and evolve.

There is also a rich tradition of not going backward once those freedoms have been granted.

No one would suggest today that re-segregating schools and preventing people from different races from marrying would be a good idea.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to privacy and medical autonomy, which includes abortions. While this right has been chipped away at in the last 40 years, it still stands.

Instead of fixating on abortion and coming up with increasingly crazy ways to limit it, just let it go.

Mississippi legislature, you have far bigger fish to fry.

The sad fact is that our lawmakers need to do better.

Mississippi deserves better.

They need to stop getting ideas from cheesy movies and get down to the task of improving the state.

Spiderman should be able to sleep easy knowing that the state legislature is far more concerned with bettering the lives of Mississippians than with his spider-DNA-infused web-slinging proclivities.

Brittany Sharkey is a third-year law student from Oceanside, Calif. She graduated from NYU in 2010 with a degree in politics. Follow her on Twitter @brittanysharkey.