Proposed Amendment

August 16, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More

We the PeopleI’ve been mulling an idea for an amendment to the U.S. constitution that probably won’t have as much a chance as the failed Equal Rights Amendment, in which persons of the female persuasion would have been defined explicitly as full fledged people with the same rights as the white male landholders for which the constitution was originally penned.

How’s this?

“Government shall pass no law abridging the right of any person to decide whether an organism living within his or her own body is a harmful parasite or a welcome guest, and to respond accordingly.”

A lawyer could probably tighten up the wording, but I think the gist is there.

This amendment might save oodles of money on government health care in ways such as:

  • It would limit the ways in which lawyers determine what medical procedures are prohibited or required, and the associated overhead in managing those decisions.
  • It would remove the bureaucracy necessary to separate funding for procedures that everyone accepts under government insurance from those protested by a vocal minority.

Discussion?

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Category: American Culture, Civil Rights, Health, Law, Meaning of Life, Religion, Reproductive Rights

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A convoluted mind behind a curly face. A regular traveler, a science buff, and first generation American. Graying of hair, yet still verdant of mind. Lives in South St. Louis City. See his personal website for (too much) more.

Comments (5)

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    While we're amending the Constitution, how about adding this too: "Each person over the age of 18 shall be deemed to be the full owner of his or her body. No law shall infringe on the right of any person to use any food, drug or device for purposes of relaxation, personal enjoyment, birth control or any other personal purpose. Nor shall any law interfere with the right of any person to withhold any medical treatment or, after a 10-day waiting period, to affirmatively end his or her life. Notwithstanding the above, 1) no employer shall have the duty to employ any person who is not capable of doing their job; and 1) governments may enforce laws designed to protect born children from abuse or neglect.

  2. Erich,

    The only problem with that is in instances of epidemic disease and choice over vaccination, quarantine, and medication. The thorny fact is, we are not isolated enough from each other, biologically, for a law like that to be practicable. We here automatically think of the up side, but there are more than a few downsides.

    For instance, also, mandatory blood tests to determine alcohol level in DUI cases.

    It might be more useful to amend it to read that each person has sole ownership of his or her genetic code, profile, and specific DNA and may determine its use, dissemination, and allocation, such right representing a nontransferable copyright.

    That might even take care of the obviously problematic phrasing of Dan's proposed wording.

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    Nothing in this proposal restricts governments from requiring those who carry communicable organisms, or who may carry through lack of vaccination, from being so marked in some obvious way.

    "Before we shake hands, please show me your ID"

    "Um, OK."

    "It says that you are not currently protected from pertussis, smallpox, typhus, or diphtheria. I will be seeing my brother tomorrow, and he will be visiting our elderly mother, so I cannot shake your hand, just in case you are carrying. Sorry."

    Let the anti-vaxxers join the militant smokers as social pariahs.

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    Not to sidetrack my post, but I don't agree with the idea of personally "owning" one's DNA, especially through copyright.

    Look at what has become of restrictive copyright enforcement of software snippets. One cannot buy third party ink cartridges because the originals have had a piece of protected code attached to them. If someone successfully files a copyright or patent on a common gene sequence, many lawyers will get rich. I remember when a third party patented the idea of using Netscape's cookies to create a shopping cart. The idea was not only obvious to any early netizen, but already widely implemented by the time the patent was awarded. Lawyers spent months on this and many similar cases until the patent examiners finally caught up with script kiddies in technical know-how. Imagine the vastly greater complexity of genetic code patenting in these situations.

    My DNA is merely an example of an iteration in evolution. Roughly half of it came from each parent, plus a small percentage from random variation. I am merely the custodian of my DNA, not its creator nor its owner. Most of the population shares most of my genes. Those pieces used for identification are specific chunks of non-gene-related "junk" DNA; essentially the distinctive pops and hisses in the analog soundtrack of my genotype.

  5. Dan,

    Mostly the abuse over this is through corporate co-opting of individual DNA. What I suggest is to basically say that no one owns it but you. Which means you have to give permission for use. Granted, this could lead to some idiotic consequences, but your code could not be "stolen" and used without your permission. And, in fact, you can't even even sign it over.

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