No on 26: Mississippi “Personhood” measure would outlaw most birth control
Does life begin at conception? The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled last week that Mississippi voters can decide in November.
Anti-choice activists scored a big win last Thursday, when a majority of the justices of the Mississippi Supreme Court decided that they could not determine the constitutionality of Ballot Measure 26 until it was voted into law. The justices, in a 7-2 vote, rejected a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.
“We cannot invade the territory of the legislature or the electorate to review the substantive validity of a proposed initiative, and thereby, we will honor the maxim embodied in the constitutional mandate of separation of powers,” said Justice Randy Pierce.
Liberty Counsel, attached to Christian Dominionist Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, defended the ballot measure before the court. Anti-choice activists hope the measure will pass, and then be appealed to the US Supreme Court — thus overturning Roe v. Wade and making abortion illegal.
A message the Yes on 26 crowd isn’t eagerly sharing is that the passage of this measure would also make the most common forms of birth control illegal. Birth control pills prevent fertilized eggs from attaching within the uterus; using the Pill would become equivalent to murder. Norplant, a birth control implant, works much like the Pill and would become illegal. Women with IUDs (intrauterine devices), implants which have as part of their action an anti-attaching effect, would have to leave the state or have the devices removed.
What about women trying to have children? Fertility clinics create many embryos from a couple’s eggs and sperm, and only implant a few. Such clinics would be forced to close, as it would be impossible to find a willing womb for every frozen embryo . . . and destroying them would be murder.
Personhood USA, the organization behind this measure and the twice-failed Colorado ballot measure, doesn’t mention these details on its website. Instead, they quote their Liberty Counsel attorney’s propaganda:
“Today we rejoice and celebrate this hard-won victory, but tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and return to work. Our opponents are discouraged, but not yet ultimately defeated. They will be back, spreading fear, confusion, and dire ‘sky-is-falling’ warnings about this simple Amendment, and we must be ready to rebut their baseless charges and set the record straight,” said Stephen Crampton, Liberty Counsel’s lead attorney for Personhood Mississippi in the case.
Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton explained that he thought abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”. He meant that while it should always be available for those who feel they have no other choice, preventing unwanted pregnancies and helping those women who do want to bear their children should take priority.
Personhood USA, like most anti-choice organizations, doesn’t give much indication of their concern for women or children, just embryos. Nowhere on their site do they discuss how they are working to make abortion less desirable, or to help women to raise children they can’t afford to support. At no point do they boast about how many of their members have selflessly adopted unwanted children, or advocate for support of Head Start or other programs to help young poor kids.
How is “personhood” going to save lives by outlawing common forms of birth control? It isn’t. It will instead push poor women further into poverty, dragging their existing children with them. It may well mean more children born addicted to drugs, or with AIDS, or into abusive or neglectful homes. An increasing rate of infant mortality? Probably.
So, since Personhood USA makes it clear that they’re not interested in helping children or their mothers, what is it they really want?
Personhood USA and many other religiously-motivated anti-choice activists want to control women’s reproductive health decisions in the name of their “ministry”. (Yes, they are a Christian ministry.) Women who can’t avoid pregnancy are women who stay home and raise children, as the men who created their god intended.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is working with Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to help voters get the facts before the November 8 election. Get more information HERE.
You can also follow @NoOnMS26 on Twitter, and check for hashtag #Personhood.
Update: Common sense prevailed in Mississippi, and Proposition 26 failed by a wide margin.