Last week, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood approved the language for a 2015 ballot measure that would amend the Mississippi state constitution to define life as beginning at conception. Now, supporters must collect 107,216 valid signatures of Mississippi voters to add it to the Mississippi ballot in 2015.
Initiative Measure No. 41, originally approved by the state legislature on March 5, would ask Mississippi voters “Should the Mississippi Constitution be amended to state that the right to life as a person begins at conception?” If approved, it would add the following amendment to the Mississippi Constitution: “The right to life begins at conception. All human beings at every stage of development are unique, created in the image of God, and shall enjoy the inalienable right to life as persons under law.”
Already, opposition to Initiative Measure 41 is growing. A petition and Facebook group called “No Means NO: Mississippians United Against Personhood” was started to raise awareness about the renewed Personhood drive and to gather signatures against Measure 41.
In 2011 Mississippi voters defeated a similar Personhood Amendment. Women’s rights supporters successfully defeated the dangerous Initiative 26, a state constitutional personhood amendment that would have given full rights to fertilized eggs, 58% to 42% with 96 percent of precincts reporting. If passed, Initiative 26, which proposed to give constitutional rights to a fertilized egg, would have banned emergency contraception, birth control pills, and IUDs as well as all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman or girl. The Personhood Amendment would have even gone so far as to eliminate medical choices for women, including some cancer treatments, in vitro fertilization, and could allow the state to investigate and even prosecute a woman for a miscarriage. Initiative Measure No. 41, if approved by voters and signed into law, would also ban abortion in all cases, many forms of birth control, and other vital reproductive health services.
In addition, President Obama attacked Personhood efforts at the Planned Parenthood nation conference on Friday. The President called the 2011 Personhood Amendment in Mississippi “absurd” and “an assault on women’s rights.” He continued, “and that’s why when the people of Mississippi were given a chance to vote on that initiative, they turned it down. And Mississippi is a conservative state.”
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 4/30/2013; Jackson Clarion Ledger 4/26/2013, 4/24/2013; Feminist Newswire 11/9/2011