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Mississippi Votes: When Does Life Begin?
Les Riley draws on his religious convictions to explain why he led the petition drive that put Mississippi's "Personhood Amendment" on the state ballot. "We believe God has already told us that life begins at conception," Riley said in an interview. "We believe this is the right thing to do legally and politically, but we also believe this is the right thing to do morally."
"This initiative scares me to death," said Cristen Hemmins, a mother of three who lives in Oxford, Mississippi. She was raped at gunpoint 20 years ago on her college campus by two men who shot her in the back and leg as she ran away. Though hospitalized for weeks, she made a full recovery. "People on the 'yes' side keep saying to me, 'Well, don't punish the baby, punish the rapist.' But what they leave out of that equation is me," Hemmins said in an interview. "If this had been in place, and I had gotten pregnant, I wouldn't have had any options. I would have been forced by the state government to bear a child, which might have killed me, physically, if not emotionally."