Mississippi vote could outlaw birth control

A fertilized egg is the very first form of reproductive life. Up for the vote is whether this egg should be considered a person with rights.

Mississippi voters are gearing up to vote on a measure that could redefine a fetus as a person with rights. On the November 7th ballot is Initiative 26, known by many as the “Personhood Amendment”, changing the legal definition of the word “person” or “persons” (terms used in Article 3 in Mississippi’s Constitution) to include “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof”.

In layman’s terms, this amendment outlaws abortions at any stage of the pregnancy (even in cases of rape, incest, or in cases of ectopic pregnancy) by giving the right to life to the fetus rather than viewing the mother as the only one with legal rights.

Supporters of this initiative argue that human life starts from the moment of conception. Their main purpose to passing this initiative is to “protect life regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction” (as quoted by the Christian Medical and Dental Associations). As Personhood USA, the group behind the initiative and the Personhood Movement puts it, “A person, simply put, is a human being. This fact should be enough. The intrinsic humanity of unborn children, by definition, makes them persons, and should, therefore, guarantee their protection under the law.”

But according to those who oppose this initiative, it goes deeper than that.

Their first concern is that the proposed measure does nothing to prevent unplanned pregnancy or teen pregnancy. Beyond abortions, the language in this initiative is so broad and vague it is actually endangering the use of birth control such as IUDs, birth control pills, or the morning-after pill. Most birth controls tend to thin the lining of the uterine wall. If a woman’s egg happens to become fertilized, this thinned lining is unable to support the pregnancy and the woman would miscarry. If Initiative 26 passes next week, a woman who miscarries in this manner could be guilty of homicide. As a result, it is doubtful that insurance companies would cover any form of birth control, thus stripping a woman of the opportunity to access affordable birth control. This will only lead to a drastic increase of unplanned pregnancies, a rise in women needing government assistance, an influx of poverty stricken families, and a whole new crop of problems for Mississippi in the snowball effect the passing of this initiative would have on the state.

Also threatened if this amendment passes is assisted fertility techniques like in-vitro fertilization. In the process of in-vitro, eggs are fertilized outside of the body and then implanted in the woman. Many of these fertilized eggs do not survive before implantation. By Initiative 26’s definition, each one of those eggs that have been fertilized but died could cause the mother and the doctor to face legal repercussions.

It is my personal opinion that passing Initiative 26 is a horrible idea. But why do I care since this is going on in Mississippi and not here? Because, first and foremost, it is silencing the reproductive rights of women in more ways than one, regardless of where this is occurring. Second, this affects not only residents of Mississippi, but college students from out of state, and any other woman who has reason to make medical decisions regarding their reproductive system in the state of Mississippi. Third, California could be next. Already there are groups gathering signatures in Florida, Montana, and Oregon to include this initiative on their state ballot.

If Mississippi passes this initiative, it will become law 30 days after the vote. It will undo all the advances medical science has done for the well being of family planning. And it will be a step backwards in the rights of women in Mississippi….and beyond.

Information was gathered from:
Personhood USA
The DM Online
The Constitution of the State of Mississippi


14 thoughts on “Mississippi vote could outlaw birth control

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  1. If this law is passed it would be a travesty. Apparently, the Christian Right wants to roll back reproductive and medical science, not to mention laws persecuted for the purposes of foisting a religious agenda on the populace in opposition to all reasonable, rational thought, to somewhere around the Hester Prynne era. Next, any woman who has a sexual relationship will be forced to wear a scarlet “S” on her person. Barbarism, pure and simple. The moral outrage that should be forming around this legislation should be forming like locusts around the dirtbags collecting these signature. Nazi thugs, that’s right, I said it. The clock on the elevation of the human race just started ticking in the wrong direction.

  2. The only upside to this sad story if it passes is that pregnant woman couldn’t be denied coverage for having a pre existing condition since by definition they wouldn’t be pregnant any more they would just have someone living in side them. I wonder how the brilliant minds behind this are planning to deal all of the repercussions of such an action. Would it mean you could claim them as a dependent on your taxes? How do you count a cell in a census. Does a cell need a passport to enter the country? Do they qualify for benefits? When’s the birthday?

  3. This is ridiculous. Even ectopic pregnancy, really? Something that puts both the mother and fetus at risk….nope– that’s a person.

    I saw a great post on the whole reproductive rights issue a while back and I wish I could find it. It discussed this culture’s right to personal autonomy that is protected in all places but in women’s reproductive rights. We are not required to donate a kidney when we have two healthy organs and only really need one to survive, and no one would think of instituting such a law. However, more and more lately, laws are being instituted to require women to carry pregnancies to term, even when the pregnancy was the result of abuse or endangers the mother’s life, because that cluster of cells is a living person — as this is the only area in which personal autonomy is so grossly sublimated, the only answer is that these laws are a bid to control women’s bodies, not to save lives. (The post I read was far more eloquent and um…written more better like…but that was the gist.)

    My ex used to laugh when my mom would suggest that lawmakers were on their way to abolishing women’s reproductive rights, thinking it impossible that they would ever even be able to do so, with the existing laws in place and supreme court prescients, being what they are, but it seems that they absolutely are able to do exactly that.

  4. This article really stretched and twisted the truth…by the way, you do have reproductive rights, you can reproduce any time you wish in the United States.

  5. The “right” to abort a fetus. Maybe, perhaps, some day the terror of that notion will actually mean something to sane people again.

  6. Womans rights to determine what lives and what dies for the convenience of women?
    Sorry, courts cant create natural or unnatural rights. Every colony in America had laws against abortion or followed British law on the subject – British law made abortion a crime!
    And yet our Supreme Court found a right to abortion in a document created by the representatives of these same colonies?
    There never was a right to abortion in our Constitution and to believe otherwise is nonsense!
    People dont have a right to go against the laws of nature!

  7. fmmt47, that is a glaring fallacy. But I’m pretty sure you knew that. boethius? It’s gross hyperbole to refer to someone’s indelible right to choose as an act of “terror” and to intimate that to have such a choice is “insane” Debate honestly, both of you, or stay the hell out of the discussion. “Every colony in America had laws against abortion” HUH? You are completely full of it, Zuma. The founding fathers didn’t have any idea of abortion, buddy. The abortion or not question rises out of a freedom of choice, a personal inalienable RIGHT which is guaranteed to us in the constitution. Mississipi, and you, apparently, want to take us back to puritan days.

  8. Oh, and here’s a little clarity for the grossly uninformed…

    “United Kingdom:

    Before 1861 British law allowed abortions performed before a person became aware of fetal movement, which is generally before the end of the second trimester. In 1861, the British Parliament passed the Offences Against the Person Act, which outlawed abortion throughout the British Empire. During the last fifty years of the 20th century there was pattern of reformation in the abortion laws in many countries. Following this pattern the United Kingdom passed the The Abortion Act of 1967 which allowed abortion for limited reasons within the territory.”

  9. Str4y,

    I believe you’re talking about Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “Violinist in a coma” argument. It illustrates the complications from believing that one’s right to live trumps another’s right to choose what goes in their body and even goes so far to show why you do not give up that right by having sex. Take a look, it’s a pretty excellent paper.

    See, a Philosophy degree is good for something! šŸ˜‰

  10. Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth!
    Apparently any restrictions, advisements or exceptions to fully-funded abortion on demand spells full-blown fascism and the end of freedom forever.
    Give me a break.
    SCOTUS finds, floating amidst the emanations and penumbras of the Constitution, an inalienable right to kill our children.
    It becomes the foundation of liberal philosophy despite the embarrassing body-count.
    Spare me.
    Women support abortion because it “fixes” an error in judgement due to passion, liquor or “the moment”.
    Men like it ‘cuz it absolves them of a father’s responsibility to protect and support his children. Pretty sweet deal for the slackers.
    Ladies and Gentlemen; please un-bunch the panties and relax.
    There is no way the Feds will allow Miss. to implement this law, even if they have to nuke the State.
    Pity. We are committing societal suicide.
    Fortunately, most Christian conservative parents kept their babies alive, and raised them.
    The evidence will be available in the voting booth for generations to come.

  11. From the moment our free will kicks in, we have the ability to choose. Sometimes we make good choices, sometimes not so good choices. But whatever, we have the right to choose. A woman’s right to choose has been defined as the right to choose abortion or choose to give birth. Even though I am a Christian, I believe in the right to choose abortion or birth just as I believe in the right to choose whether or not to perform any other functions each and every day. We’re given choices all our lives and we make decisions based on those choices.

    For me, I exercised the right to choose 34 years ago and gave myself a week to decide whether or not to abort an unplanned pregnancy. Thankfully for me, my choice was to continue with the pregnancy or none of you would be reading this column right now. But 90 years ago my aunt was forced by her abusive husband to have a backroom abortion because he didn’t want any more kids. There were no government sanctioned clinics at that time and my aunt died. If there had been someone medically trained to administer the abortion instead of an untrained person with a coat hanger, she might have lived.

    Even though I allowed myself the choice whether or not to go through with an abortion long ago, I know now that it wouldn’t have been right for me. I don’t like the idea of abortion, but I can’t make that choice for anyone else. We’re all given choices. It’s up to us what we decide to do with them.

  12. I’m not sure that people are reading this article before they race to comment some flaming remark about abortion. The main problem of this legislature isn’t that it outlaws abortion (though that too is a huge problem), it is that it will outlaw many forms of birth control which prevent an egg from implanting itself on the uterine wall. Many types of birth control, including several types of the pill and IUDs keep the uterine wall too thin to support the implantation, so the fertilized egg is simply flushed out of the body. This is NOT to be confused with an abortion, which removes an already implanted egg from the body. If states are willing to ban some types of birth control, what is to stop the next step, where all birth control is banned, even condoms, because we are restricting an eggs right to be fertilized? Heck, if we are going to start giving living cells rights, maybe we should ban chemotherapy. Cancer cells are living beings, too……

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