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Mississipi Votes on 'Personhood' Today

Today is the day residents of Mississippi vote on Initiative Measure Number 26, also known as the “Personhood Amendment,” which, if passed, will change how a person is defined in the Mississippi Constitution. The one-sentence amendment reads: “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

The wording of the amendment is simple, but its implications are complex and far reaching. If approved, it would be impossible for Mississippi residents to get an abortion — even in cases of rape or incest —and it would 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, according to RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association. Says RESOLVE Board Member, Lee Rubin Collins, JD:

    “It is clear that with the prospect of intense governmental scrutiny of their medical practice and the threat of criminal sanctions, doctors will not want to practice reproductive medicine in Mississippi and will leave."

According to the Washington Post, the Amendment 26 is poised to pass with 45 percent of voters supporting the amendment and 44 percent opposed to it. This is the first time that a personhood amendment has gotten close to passing. No state has ever given an embryo constitutional rights and, experts say that legally, it’s not quite clear what happens when you do.

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