+Catholicos Scholarios-Gennadius III is an archbishop of the Œcumenical Canonical Orthodox Church Worldwide. Here he gives his views on legislation in Mississippi, which had a bearing on the definition of when “personhood” occurs – at conception or later in the developmental process.
The voters of Mississippi demonstrated at the voting box their misunderstanding regarding the intention of this historic legislation to legally define personhood. Amending a state’s constitution should always be a matter of delicacy and to be approached caution. However, the margin separating the two points of view in this case demonstrates the level of miscomprehension involved and the failure of the legislation’s authors to adequately communicate the non-threatening purpose of this legislation.
It is safe to assume that the majority of Mississippi’s voters value and support the protection of human life. It is equally safe to assume that these same voters desire to protect coveted constitutional rights they have been misled to believe are being threatened as in this particular case.
Recognizing the delicate nature of this legislative effort the burden of effectively communicating the intricacies inherent in this constitutional matter resides with the authors and its respective advocates. Accordingly, the success of this effort could have been enhanced through a collaborative partnership of equal status between legislative staff members, community supporters and church representatives to create a product that clearly explained the purpose and intention of the legislation in non-threatening language.
Such an approach would have effectively avoided the intentional misrepresentations of the anti-life and pro-abortion factions that deliberately characterised this legislation as a denial and limitation of a woman’s health issue as opposed to the protection of life action that it was originally intended to be. This distortion was an immoral twisting of the truth and constituted willful commandeering of legitimate women’s health concerns for the base purpose of denying equal treatment and constitutional protection of all human life.
The case can be easily made that the majority of morally grounded Americans in Mississippi and the rest of America support the value of human personhood, except in such cases where this personhood is prevented from becoming a publicly acknowledged and accepted reality. The denial of personhood as illustrated by the defeat of this important legislative measure is analogous to the denial of human compassion for the voiceless and disabled who are the most defenseless of all Americans who continue to faithfully seek constitutional protection.