Mississippi To Vote On Fetal Personhood Amendment Which Would Outlaw Birth Control And IVF

Tomorrow, Election Day, voters in Mississippi will vote on a fetal personhood amendment to define a fetus as a person in the state constitution, thereby criminalizing all abortion. Initiative 26 would define a “person” as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.” If it passes, surgical abortions would be banned, the abortion pill would be banned, and, according to a Personhood USA spokesman who spoke to NPR, even birth control pills would be banned.

A little health class real quick: when a woman gets pregnant, a man’s sperm fertilizes her egg and it gets implanted in her uterus. Birth control pills prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg, as well as create mucus that prevent sperm from meeting the egg. Additionally, birth control pills prevent the egg from implanting in the uterus. In theory, according to the Planned Parenthood resource page on birth control, an egg could be fertilized by sperm but not be implanted in the uterus. Therefore under Mississippi’s proposed fetal personhood ban, birth control would be killing a human being. Additionally, in vitro fertilization could face restrictions.

Do we have reason to hope Mississippi voters won’t vote for this reactionary and harmful amendment? It’s hard to say. The Mississippi State Medical Association does not support it. The National Right To Life movement and prominent Catholics have refused to promote it, although they may support it in theory. (Their reasons for not supporting it are because they think it won’t help their fight to overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision which effectively legalized abortion across the U.S. But still, it’s something.) On the other hand, Mississippi’s own governor, Haley Barbour, voted for the fetal personhood amendment by absentee ballot, saying, “I think the right thing to do was to vote for it.”

I’ll keep you posted on what happens tomorrow; if the amendment passes, it will go into effect 30 days after the election is certified. Frisky readers in Mississippi, I would love to hear your thoughts on the the fetal personhood amendment — and how your friends and family are reacting to it — in the comments.


[Think Progress]

[Think Progress]

[Planned Parenthood: Birth Control Pills]

[ABC News]

Contact the author of this post at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.