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Personhood Amendment Fails in Mississippi

The Mississippi 'Personhood Amendment' was soundly rejected at the polls in one of the most conservative states in the country yesterday, with 57 percent of voters saying "no" to Initiative 26, which would have declared life begins at fertilization. The amendment would have changed how a person is defined under the Mississippi State Constitution and would have most certainly drawn legal challenges to the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion.

Personhood amendments have far-reaching implications for women's health. If it had been approved, it would be impossible for Mississippi residents to get an abortion — even in cases of rape or incest —and it would have impede their ability to obtain some forms of birth control, such as the morning after pill or birth control pills that destroy fertilized eggs. In addition, the amendment undermines access to safe and reliable fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and would negatively impact stem cell research.

Several organizations, such as RESOLVE, Parents Against MS 26, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), Mississippians for Healthy Families, and physicians in Mississippi joined forces to help defeat Mississippi Initiative 26. which aimed to define a person as a fertilized egg. The battle is not over, however. More states are ready to introduce personhood ballot initiatives next year, including Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin.

"We are pleased the people of Mississippi did not accept this dangerous measure that would have endangered access to reproductive health care," says Dolores J. Lamb, Ph.D., president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. "We hope policy makers in other states will take note; the American people do not want government coming between physicians and their patients and will not accept policy on reproductive health care being controlled by extremists. Our members are pleased they will be able to continue to provide the citizens of Mississippi with full access to the reproductive health care they need."

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