By the time this article appears in print, voters in Mississippi will be heading to the polls to vote on Proposition 26, an amendment to the state’s constitution that grants personhood to fetuses and fertilized eggs.  The legal, political, and social implications of such a bill are enormous, but not everyone realizes the extent of its potential impact.

According to the website personhoodmississippi.com, leader of the “Vote Yes on 26” campaign, “Amendment 26… is a citizens initiative to amend the Mississippi Constitution to define personhood as beginning at fertilization or ‘the functional equivalent thereof.’ Its purpose is to protect all life, regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction.”  Not only does the amendment prohibit abortion, it outlaws cloning as well.

Legally, if a fertilized egg or fetus counts as a person, then abortion can be prosecuted as murder. A person who performs or has an abortion, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the procedure—health of the mother or fetus, rape, incest—is prosecutable in court as a murderer, which carries a sentence of 25 years to life.

Even if she wanted to prevent pregnancy, under the proposed amendment, she can’t—birth control is a form of contraception or prevention of life, and if an unborn egg suddenly has rights and the attempt to impinge on the life of that unborn egg is considered criminal, then birth control is illegal.  It sounds bizarre, but pharmacies that stock certain contraceptives and doctors who prescribe them would suddenly be violating the law.

How is that for odd, folks? Getting thee to a nunnery doesn’t sound so bad after all.

Women, pharmacies, and doctors are not the only ones who will suffer; adoption agencies, state agencies, and foster care units and their volunteers are already strained in their efforts to provide for unwanted children. Families willing to adopt are notoriously few relative to children who need adopting. Children born under these circumstances—unwanted by their parents or ill-cared for by agencies strapped for cash—suffer most of all.

Women who miscarry will also suffer under this bill; they will face charges of manslaughter.  It does not even matter if they are convicted; the stress of undergoing a trial in addition to mourning the loss of a baby is a cruel punishment for an innocent person, not to mention her partner.

Don’t be fooled; if Prop 26 passes in Mississippi, it won’t just affect Mississippians.  Pro-choice advocates and others will inevitably challenge the amendment, and it will go before the Supreme Court. If the current conservative court votes by a small majority to uphold the amendment, then that becomes judicial precedent for similar laws in states across the entire nation. Imagine if our wonderfully open, sexually progressive campus suddenly couldn’t even hand out free condoms for fear of prosecution.

Our generation is privileged. We get to take for granted what our parents and grandparents’ generations fought for. However, those things they accomplished are not set in stone; ever since their passage, opponents have fought, some successfully, to reduce or eliminate progressive steps such as affirmative action, the right to abortion, the right to privacy, the right to vote regardless of race or ethnicity or socioeconomic status, the right to strike, and more. We cannot write off Mississippi as a far away state with no impact on us—if we allow the rights of women in Mississippi to be destroyed, we set a precedent for our own to be demolished.

  • Life Begins at Conception

    So it’s a baby when a mother miscarries, but an “egg” when it is unwanted? How is it that were are only persons when we are “wanted”? You, my friend, are very confused.

  • Life Begins at Conception

    So it’s a baby when a mother miscarries, but an “egg” when it is unwanted? How is it that we are only persons when we are “wanted”? You, my friend, are very confused.

    • Balls

      Life begins at conception, but not personhood. You can’t have that without neurons and synapses. So take your superstitious nonsense and shove it.

  • Joe K.

    You’re crazy for thinking birth control would be made illegal. They aren’t saying you can’t interfere with fertilization, but that you have to respect an implanted developing fetus/zygote.

    Your hysteria has clouded the facts.

    If the baby/fetus/zygote does not go full term and is still born, it would not be manslaughter, that’s crazy talk. It would be like any other death of natural causes. Mourned.

    • Br

      Well, if you’re raped you can’t get an abortion. That alone makes this a terrible proposition.

      • midwestgirl

        can you find me the stats that show how many abortions out of the 3600 each day in america are because the woman was raped or a victim of incest? it’s like less than one percent. probably even less than that. that argument is stupid and is always used as some lame excuse to legitimize abortion.

      • Nicotine_and_silence

        Ok, well fine we’ll go with one percent then since you didn’t provide any statistics either, atleast not any proof of them. so 3600 each day? How many of those are medical? Any clue? How many of those are in Mississippi, where there is only one voluntary abortion clinic? But you know what, to hell with it, we’ll go with one percent. That’s 36 every day that are from rape. Meaning there are 13,104 abortions stemming from rape or incest every year. Not such a miniscule number now, is it?

      • MH125

        So just because the statistic is low of women that become pregnant due to rape (add incest as well) that makes it ok?…. ONE woman/girl/child being raped and being forced by the government to give birth is too many.

      • sdl

        midwestgirl,
        I am sure this has not occurred to you, but contributing to a low percentage of rape being a reason for abortion are that the majority of rapes are not reported in the first place and the women who do are treated immediately with the morning after, thus preventing pregnancy. The morning after pill will be outlawed if this passes.

      • Hayley

        Did you know that 50% of rapes are not reported? I wonder how many abortions that equalled to? Your statistics are flawed. Get out of other women’s vaginas.

      • LB

        Even if that number is low, it’s up to the woman to decide if she wants to abort the baby or keep it. There is no use in a mother having a child she doesn’t want.

    • lwobhsifssim

      Joe K, it would open the gate to criminalizing birth control since most forms of birth control work by first making it difficult for the egg to be fertilized, but failing that, changing the uterus lining so that the fertilized egg won’t implant. In all technicality, under prop 26, it would be considered an abortion. As it is, Plan B would immediately be criminalized. Honestly, there shouldn’t be an governmental say in what transpires between a doctor and his/her patient.

    • sdl

      But, Joe, this already is going to make some forms of birth control illegal. For examples, IUDs are the safest, most effective and popular form of bc on Earth. For women over 35, oral birth control comes with a huge increase in blood clots, a possibly fatal condition. How is that “pro” life?

  • midwestgirl

    you honestly think a woman who has a miscarriage will be prosecuted? give me a break! and out of the 3600 abortions everyday in this country, how many of them do you think are because the women got pregnant from a rape or incest. I am so sick of that argument. it’s less than .5%. I’m so tired of liberals using that as an excuse. and this prop clearly states that if the mother’s life is in danger, they can perform an abortion.

    • Nicotine_and_silence

      No a woman who has a miscarriage will not be prosecuted. The author is way off on that one. However as for what this prop states, it says nothing of the kind. The prop says that personhood will begin at fertilization. That’s it. It does not account for any of the legal issues that will stem from this. As for “if the mother’s life is in danger they can perform an abortion”, it definitely doesn’t say that. Read their pamphlet. It says, in cases where the fetus is viable, the doctor will consider the rights of the fetus.

      • Jon R.

        This is a foundation for later laws and amendments to come to pass. People say they are afraid of the implications that this could have but that argument is ridiculous because that’s not even the issue for this proposition. It’s not right to kill one life for another. If the mother is going to die they will have to take the baby at some point anyway and wish for the best.

      • Nicotine_and_silence

        The mother may not necessarily die though. Ectopic pregnancies are a great example here. The egg implants somewhere other than the womb. Like the fallopian tubes. It can live, it can grow. However, that will eventually burst the tube and both mother and baby could, and most often do, die. Look I understand if there is no way to help the mother, but in these cases the mother can live. It should be her choice of whether or not she wants to be a martyr.

      • sdl

        Jon,
        I live in a small town in a conservative part of the country. A local doctor, a man from a very religious family who I like tremendously, recently had a heart changing tragedy happen to his family. His family is well known in our small town. His father took over his family funeral home, which operates in four nearby communities, and his younger brother joined a few years ago. They’ve been members of one of the largest churches. They were all star athletes in school and truly some of the nicest people I have ever met.
        And, because of their faith, they were opposed to abortion on a fundamental level, that is, until the were faced head on with it in their own family. You see, when the early ultrasound for his wife’s second pregnancy was finished, they discovered she had ovarian cancer. A good friend of mine works in his office and we all sat down and talked about it with him. It still breaks my heart for his family.
        Her obgyn and oncologist told her that if she chose not to abort and begin treatment immediately that she would live long enough to have the baby. However, by that time, the cancer would have grown to a terminal point and the best they could do was treat it aggressively to buy her a few years with her kids.
        So you know what they did? They did the rational thing, the only thing. They chose life — HER LIFE. They chose for their oldest child not to grow up motherless. This doctor told me how much they still struggle with this and always will, but they would do the same thing again. Obviously they will never have another biological children, but they are in the process of adopting another.
        Let me ask you something, Jon. Have you ever been in his position?

    • sdl

      Who will be prosecuted, midwestgirl? The state’s own gubernatorial candidate who supports this said in an interview I watched that it will be up to the legislature to define. Do you honestly think that women will walk into a hospital with a clothes hanger hanging out of their vaginas or will admit that they purposely fell down a flight of stairs? Symptoms in early pregnancy loss are pretty general.

    • trytobeoriginal

      This proposition does not state anything about the mother’s life being in danger. Read the whole thing. It doesn’t say anything about what it does. It defines a person, and that means it has the same rights as the mother. SO in a case where there is a choice between the mother’s life, and the child’s, or both, it won’t be up to the mother and her doctor, it will be up to a judge. Since when do I have to let a judge decide whether I live or leave my little girl motherless? That’s the biggest problem by far.

    • five5volley

      First of all there is a women in Alabama already being tried for manslaughter because she had a glass if alcohol in her first trimester and ultimately the baby was miscarried, because of the alcohol, I don’t think anyone knows. So yes, they can and they most likely will try women who miscarry.

      Secondly, and more concerning to me are ectopic pregnancies. Even if the pregnancy is harming the welfare of the mother nothing can be done to prevent harm to her. I see that as a big issue, especially when people argue prolife. So the life of the baby is so important your going to possibly end the mothers life.

    • A Dude
  • Jon R.

    I’m pleased to see there are some intelligent people here who are just as outraged as I am from these ridiculous fallible accusations that birth-control will be banned, miscarriages will become prosecutable, and that it’s okay to kill if you’ve been raped. First of all the writer doesn’t know how birth control works nor the proposed definition of “person”. The sperm must join the egg to become fertilized, seeing as how Olivia Alperstein seems like a girl’s name you really should know these things and that she doesn’t alerts me to the fact she isn’t intellectual. Birth control prevents the egg from being released to become fertilized.

    A miscarriage would have to be proven to have been intentionally caused and since this would be super hard it won’t be. Now if they found evidence of some type of abuse like some home abortion techniques that I am not familiar with then yes it seems likely they would be prosecuted.

    I agree with midwestgirl, of all the abortions show us a statistic that it was because of rape. Not likely. I’m hoping this goes through because it’s senseless to kill innocent humans of any age. If we cannot find peaceful ways to co-exist then we are not as civilized as we think.

    • Nicotine_and_silence

      Actually the fear is that some forms of birthcontrol will be banned. Not all birthcontrol “prevents the egg from being released”. Some create a harmful environment in the uterus. They harden the uterin wall so that in the case that something does get through it can’t attach to the lining of the womb and implant. Also, things like IUDs make it impossible for a fertlized egg to attach to the wall, that’s how they work. Same with diaphragms. Those could potentially be banned.

      The miscarriage thing, I agree is mostly fear mongering.

      As for midwestgirl, I addressed her comments statements, I’ll not redirect them to you. I agree we need to find peaceful ways to coexist, however that has nothing to do with this proposition. This proposition is about making Mississippi sub-par in terms of medical care, preventing an aspect of society that people find offensive even though it doesn’t effect them in any way, and putting ideology over the well being of women. To me that doesn’t seem civilized, it seems like a step back to the dark ages.

    • sdl

      I have read about this quite a bit and heard an interview with the candidate for governor explain that much of this bill be up to the legislator to define. So, you don’t know what it will or will not outlaw. Illegal abortions have been happening since the beginning of time. If this is passed, surely so much time and taxpayer dollars won’t have been wasted in the campaign and some prosecutor somewhere will try to pursue these charges.
      Have you ever had a miscarriage? I have. The symptoms a woman would have from a very early spontaneous abortion (medical term for miscarriage) will be the same as a woman who purposely falls down a flight of stairs to induce a miscarriage. The evidence will be strikingly similar. Therefore, one of two things will happen — either no one will be prosecuted for fear of prosecuting someone who spontaneously aborted and this will all have been for naught or random women will have to explain their miscarriages to law enforcement and possibly a jury.

    • Liz

      Apparently YOU don’t know how birth control works. The birth control pill works in three ways: it prevents an egg from being released from the ovary, it blocks sperm by thickening cervical mucus, and it prevents implantation of a fertilized egg by thinning the uterine lining. (I’m a med student, but if you want a reference: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR602119

      So, yeah, I DO think that this bill could very well lead to a ban on oral contraceptives:” BALLOT SUMMARY: Initiative #26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word “person” or “persons”, as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.”
      http://www.sos.ms.gov/page.aspx?s=7&s1=1&s2=50

      Please don’t comment on other people’s intelligence until you’ve researched all the facts.

  • Nicotine_and_silence

    Alright, I hate this prop but you have some things wrong. A miscarriage will not be criminalized. I understand the fear there, but that’s a slippery slope fallacy. Also not all birthcontrol will be banned, only those forms which are abortificient. IUDs, depo shot, Plan B, some forms of the pill, yeah those are gone. Seriously, if you’re going to be on my side, know your shit.

    • Just wondering

      So, no more IUDs, Depo Shots, several forms of BCPs and Plan B. What is left? Condoms and SOME BCPs? Limiting a woman’s birth control options in this day is almost insane.

      What you have to understand about the criminalization of miscarriages is that legal experts are already saying that miscarriages will have to be investiagted, just like any death would be. Every fetus becomes a person. Doesn’t every death have to be investigated? An autopsy performed to determine if there was potential foul play? Does that mean if you’re pregnant and you pick up a box that is too heavy and have a miscarriage you are suddenly guilty of negligent homicide? I know you think this is slippery slope, but with a bill this ambiguous, it most certainly falls into the realm of possibilities.

      • Nicotine_and_silence

        I agree with you, it is insane. They’re limiting birth control options and then banning abortions. It’s a recipe for disaster. Especially when you consider that the clinic in Jackson is the only one that does voluntary abortions. All this fuss over one frigging clinic.

        I also completely understand the concern. I too have thought about deaths being investigated. The fears are not unfounded, and I completely agree that the wording of this prop is far too vague and does not take into consideration the legal ramifications of it’s wording.

  • NotoProp26

    As we speak it’s failing! 59%- NO 41%-YES!! Yay!!!!

  • Abortion is federally legal. Deal with it Mississippi & all men who are against abortion. It’s not any of your business. Women are smart enough to figure out their own choices & make their own decisions – keep the preggo, terminate or adopt. Women can decide just fine without your or Prop 26’s intervention. Don’t like the killing of babies? Great – Focus on birthed, living babies who are caught in the cycle of poverty, foster homes or warfare.

  • Dazzlingshocker

    ANY CHILD DYING FOR ANY REASON OTHER THAN COMPLETELY NATURAL CAUSES IS WRONG! How dare any of you say that it’s “ok” for a woman to kill a living human being within her womb just because it wasn’t conceived under the perfect circumstances! That little fertilized egg is a person in there! Just like u and I once were. Aren’t u glad u were given the chance at life? Then extend the same right to other living human beings as well. ABORTION IS MURDER NO MATTER WHAT THE REASON IS FOR IT!!!

    • Hayley

      It’s not a child. It’s an egg with sperm in it. It can’t feel anything yet or develop a personality. What makes it alive?

  • STFUandMindYourOwnBusiness

    The people who agree with this shit are fucking retarded. It’s not the government’s, yours or anybody else’s business. Its called Privacy for a damn fucking reason; the only people an abortion affects is the mother, the father, and the family. By stopping abortion and cloning you only stop possible cures for diseases such as cancer. Stop being so narrow minded.

  • Jessvern

    ANYONE WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE IN ABORTION SHOULD NEVER HAVE ONE> AND IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IN BIRTH CONTROL

  • Pingback: Mississippi defeats personhood amendment | ANDREW RIGGIO()

Twitter