Quick Hit: Mississippi’s “Personhood” amendment likely to pass

On November 8, voters in Mississippi will vote on a constitutional amendment declaring a fertilized egg to be a person. As election day approaches, the New York Times reports on the final push:

The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and “morning-after pills” that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.

The amendment has been endorsed by candidates for governor from both major parties, and it appears likely to pass, said W. Martin Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. Legal challenges would surely follow, but even if the amendment is ultimately declared unconstitutional, it could disrupt vital care, critics say, and force years of costly court battles.

Of course, contrary to the Times headline, this isn’t exactly a new tack in the anti-choice movement. Voters in Colorado soundly rejected similar measures on the state’s 2008 and 2010 ballots. But the extremists at Personhood USA saw promise in Mississippi–a state that “already has so many restrictions on abortion that only one clinic performs the procedure.” If passed, Mississippi will be the first state to actually approve a so-called “personhood” initiative.

Read the rest of the Times article. Learn more from Genie in the Community site. Read more from Irin Carmon at Salon. And check out these grassroots pro-choice efforts to get the word out about this absurd and dangerous measure.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/daireen/ Amanda M.

    I thought of a fabulous idea. Should this pass, solo women in cars should clog any diamond lanes on highways. If pulled over, tell the cop “But officer, there -are- two people in this car, according to Mississippi law.”

    If they try to fine or arrest you, sue the hell out of the state.

  • http://feministing.com/members/setheag/ Seth E

    Does that mean then that getting abortion would literally be murder? I mean, if something is a person then it’s a person, killing it would be a capital offense in a death penalty state like Mississippi.

    • http://feministing.com/members/genie3288/ Genie Leslie

      That’s exactly what it means. Birth control and emergency contraceptives that prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg would also be murder (or perhaps manslaughter, who knows). The potential consequences are terrifying, and Personhood USA is working on getting laws/amendments like this on the ballots in all 50 states.

  • http://feministing.com/members/katya/ Katie

    (1) Are they going to prosecute women who have miscarriages for involuntary manslaughter?

    (2) How in the hell is the Department of Vital Statistics going to deal with this? Fertilized eggs often fail to implant; technically, that is the death of a legal person. And how do you date a birth certificate, if the person born has already been alive for nine months or so?

  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    The copper IUD that made me a better parent to my POST-BORN child would be illegal under this amendment.


  • http://feministing.com/members/lechele/ Michele Gilliam

    My response to Mississippi’s draconian anti-abortion bill that would also ban some forms of birth control.


  • http://feministing.com/members/alexmmr/ Alex

    Ummmmm, how do they explain identical twins? The embryo is created as a single organism that this amendment wants to identify as a full person.

    But then the embryo splits in the next several days and creates 2 fetuses. So is each twin only half a person? It seems to me that this idea cancels their entire premise that an embryo is a fully fledged person.

    Unless you have to murder both of the adult twins in order to be charged with murder, cuz if you just kill 1, you only killed half a person.