Personhood Amendment Emotional for Mississippi Voters

By: Nick Adam Email
By: Nick Adam Email

Mississippi's Personhood Initiative seems to have stirred up more emotion than any other item on the Nov. 8 ballot. Even some people who are pro-life don't want to see the amendment pass.

The debate has raged for weeks about what will happen if the measure passes.

Ann Stewart is a former educator who strongly opposes the Personhood Amendment.

"A choice of whether you are for abortion or not for abortion is a completely different issue," said Stewart. "This goes way beyond that, and it doesn't take into account economics, money, people's rights, nothing."

Jay Nicholson serves on the Personhood board, and says all the concern over the language in the measure is overblown.

"This bill is one paragraph long; it's not pages. There's not a lot of underlying things going on," said Nicholson. "It will end abortion and the pills, birth control pills, will be done through the legislative process."

But that is one of the issues that concerns Stewart. She fears that if the initiative passes, birth control pills and IUDs could be banned, because as a last resort, they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine lining.

"The nation has spent a tremendous amount of money in planned parenthood, teaching women and men about safe sex," said Stewart. "What does that do to us if we have nothing to protect ourselves with?"

"First, there is going to have to be proof that certain pills, as a last resort, do destroy a fertilized egg," said Nicholson. "So if that is proven, and just like every amendment, it has to be worked out through the legislature."

Nicholson says that, if the amendment goes into the state Constitution, a woman's health would not be put before her unborn child's. But Stewart remains concerned

"There's too much in this document that nobody fully understands and grasps," said Stewart. "We should not be voting on this thing."

"There is already a law protecting women right now," said Nicholson. "The life of the baby does not trump the life of the mother."

Stewart also says the cost of the legal fight that passage would bring is not worth it. But Nicholson says taking personhood all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court would be well worth it.

Gov. Haley Barbour says he has voted in favor of the Personhood Amendment. Barbour says he voted absentee Thursday in Yazoo County. Barbour had said earlier this week that he was concerned about the ambiguity of the amendment, and what impact it might have on birth control and invitro fertilization. But he says, ultimately, he believes life begins at conception, and that is why he voted for the amendment.

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