Written by Ann Rose for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.
On November 8th, the voters of Mississippi will be considering a “Personhood Amendment” (Amendment #26) which would give a fertilized egg more rights than a live born woman, and would outlaw abortion and birth control. The threatening part about this amendment (and others like it proposed in all the other States) is that it could be a vehicle to be used in the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and thus make abortion and birth control illegal throughout the country. This High Tech Uterine Occupation should scare every progressive and every woman. But, the Democratic Party is not working to organize against this dangerous amendment. The word hasn’t gotten out about how to help fight this.
Eggs Are NOT People.
But, time is running out to fight this, and I’m confident The Great Orange can help reverse the cone of silence around Amendment 26. Mississippi has an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent (9th worse in the nation), consistently ranks in the lowest in education, 17.6 percent of Mississippians have no health insurance, and 21.8 percent of its citizens live below the poverty level. Yet, these yahoos think it’s important to focus on further degrading women by making it impossible to get an abortion instead of taking real action to improve the living conditions in their state. This is also the state that has the strictest abortion TRAP laws of any state. And, this is the state that has only one remaining abortion clinic, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The text of Amendment 26, The Personhood Amendment, is as follows:
“Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hereby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.”
This proposed Amendment 26 – The Mississippi Personhood Amendment – will be up for vote on November 8th. If this passes, AND IT IS EXPECTED TO PASS, it will be a disaster for women in Mississippi.
In the years ahead, the disaster will spread across the country. Here’s why: The idea of “personhood” sounds so warm and fuzzy and even reasonable, it’s hard for most people to believe that there might be something nefarious to this campaign. One doesn’t have to do much digging to see that this is an all-out assault on abortion rights. As Personhood USA says loudly and proudly on their website: “personhood is the key to defeating Roe v. Wade.” On the first page of their website, they brag that they have “personhood petitions now active in all 50 states.”
This week, the clinic put up a website
and sent out the following plea for support:
This is an URGENT MESSAGE FROM MISSISSIPPI!!!! I am writing to you from the true FRONTLINES of the ABORTION BATTLE!!! Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the last and only refuge for Mississippi Women seeking abortion. After the tragic loss of Susan Hill, we scrambled to ensure that the work of this facility did not lapse. I want to thank you for all your support over the last several years in protecting Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Mississippi Legislators and anti choice zealots continue every year with their assaults on reproductive healthcare making MS abortion laws the most restrictive in the land. AND…We are still standing STRONG! However, on November 8th, the MS ballot will include the Personhood Amendment which will end abortion in MS and will more than likely take Roe-v-Wade to the Supreme Court. WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN! And neither can you…
The extremist group – Personhood USA – openly states on their website that “personhood” is the key to overturning Roe V. Wade. On the front page of their website they brag that they have petitions for similar amendments in ALL 50 STATES!
MS Amendment #26 actually states that a zygote is a person even before it attaches to the uterus! If passed, Personhood Amendment #26 will not only ban abortion BUT ALSO ban most (if not all) forms of birth control, end in-vitro fertilization, and make stem cell research illegal. In addition, women who miscarry will be subject to criminal investigation! THIS MEASURE GOES TOO FAR AND IS A THREAT TO – NOT ONLY WOMEN IN MISSISSIPPI – BUT THE ENTIRE COUNTRY!
If you are thinking to yourself that this amendment is too radical to pass, think again. The original petition to place this on the ballot had 30,000 MORE SIGNATURES than necessary. The Democratic candidate for Governor openly supports this amendment as does the current Attorney General, ALSO A DEMOCRAT!
Jackson Women’s Health Organization is working with grassroots women and men throughout the state to defeat this measure. Although Planned Parenthood offers some family planning services in Mississippi, they do not offer abortion services and therefore do not endure the harassment our doctors, staff, and patients deal with daily.
We are the only ones left in the fight and on the ground!
We are creating home-made signs and leaflets to distribute everywhere/ anywhere we go. Mississippi Pro-Choice Activists are popping up in towns across the state and asking for resources to spread the word on this dangerous Amendment. We have never seen anything like it before! We need your help! We must expand our outreach immediately to radio, billboards, and TV. Please send a donation to support this “on the ground” movement to protect the rights of Mississippi Women. We must thwart this MIS-INFORMATION campaign that Personhood USA is spreading and educate our voters about the dangers of Amendment #26!
We ask you to put your money where the real battle is being fought…not in a corporate board room, but in the halls of the clinics and the houses of the organizers who are volunteering their time and efforts. We don’t have time for polling or committee or subcommittee meetings with less than a month left before the vote. http://www.WakeUpMississippi.org/ is already on the ground running. We don’t have the luxury of a built in donor list and the name recognition of the abortion corporations. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD. Please put your money where it will do the most good: on the front lines in Mississippi.
Please support this organic movement and show that America cares about Mississippi Women and their Families! Your response is required immediately!
Owner and Reproductive Freedom Fighter
Jackson Women’s Health Organization
PS Please send whatever you can NOW to stop Amendment #26 in Mississippi! Use this link to our organization for Paypal payments:
Or mail checks to:
2903 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39216
Thus, this initiative is the first step in a plan by Personhood USA to overturn Roe V Wade and end all abortion in this country. The impact goes further than shutting down clinics. This amendment could literally imprison women in addition to imprisoning women in their own bodies.
Here are some examples that come to mind of the possible impacts this amendment would have. Add your own insane scenarios in the comments section:
1. A pregnant woman who goes out to dinner with family and friends and accidentally picks up the wrong glass and has a swig of rum and coke can be charged for child abuse.
2. What about pregnant illegal immigrants? The right wing is pretty hot on getting them out of the country as fast as possible. Well, this is going to be a big problem when the pregnant immigrant is actually two people…one who is legal (the fertilized egg) and the other who is not (the living, breathing woman). I guess at this point most folks trying to avoid deportation should get pregnant and move to Mississippi and have their “legal” zygote/fetus/child apply for welfare and medicaid.
3. Women who are found to have birth control pills could be prosecuted for attempted murder.
4. If a pregnant woman wearing 2″ heels trips and falls, subsequently having a miscarriage, she could be prosecuted for manslaughter.
5. When a woman has a life threatening ectopic pregnancy, who decides which “person” gets to live and which “person” gets to die?
6. Will an ultrasound picture be an acceptable form of ID for the fetus/person to be able to travel out of the country? Will “don’t know yet” be acceptable as a category for gender?
7. How will any future candidate for President prove that they were conceived/born in the United States?
It’s almost a relief to think about how idiotic this amendment is. Most rational people think that it is SO crazy that there is no way it can stand legally.
But, before those of you who are not from Mississippi try to make yourselves feel safe by thinking that these folks are from a different world and that nothing like this could ever happen in the state YOU live in, take a look at what CNN recently reported:
“Mississippi is the only state with a “personhood” initiative on the ballot this year. Similar measures are being planned for next year in Florida, Montana and Ohio, say supporters. Efforts in at least five other states are in the planning stages.”
Don’t think for a second that this amendment will not pass. It will. Even the Democrats of Mississippi have jumped on board the “personhood” bandwagon. Laura Bassett of HuffingtonPost.com says:
“The personhood measure actually has a fair amount of support from Mississippi Democrats. Jim Hood, the Democratic Attorney General, endorsed the amendment in a statement and said he would defend it if it were challenged. A spokesperson for Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, the Democratic candidate for governor, told HuffPost that that he supports the amendment as well, despite his ‘concerns about some of the ramifications’.”
Sid Salter, columnist for The Mississippi Press and journalist-in-residence at Mississippi State University, writes that this amendment is expected to pass with overwhelming support in November.
“Conservatives expect a nearly uncontested passage of the “personhood” amendment in Mississippi…….Regardless of the legal challenges, expect Mississippi voters to pass the personhood amendment with strong backing from many of the state’s churches.”
Nancy Kohsin-Kintigh, Programs Director of ACLU of Mississippi writes:
”Mississippi extremists want to take away the right to abortion and birth control by passing the “so called” Personhood Ballot Initiative #26. It is dangerous and is an all-out assault on women and their families. If passed, this amendment would not only ban abortion but also birth control and many assisted reproductive healthcare procedures which include in-vitro fertilization. The initiative will insert government control over our wombs, our ability to choose when and how many children we have, and we will be criminally investigated when we have a miscarriage.”
If you haven’t heard very much or even anything about this amendment, don’t feel bad. It’s not your fault. There has been a total lack of publicity, education, and action from notable groups who are dedicated defenders of choice.
This of course results in a total lack of coverage from the nation’s media outlets. This is because the unspoken word is that Mississippi has always been “a hopeless case” in our country when it comes to abortion rights. The women and families of Mississippi have had to suffer the injustice of being undefended because of the need to focus where progress can be made.
This won’t work anymore.
All it takes is for one “personhood” amendment from one state to reach the Supreme Court of the United States and be upheld to end abortion and birth control access in this country.
We can’t let this happen. Our opposition is determined, invigorated, well organized, and well funded.
Mike Huckabee recently spoke at a fundraiser banquet for “Personhood Mississippi.” In his speech, he warned the audience that they had “no idea how many millions of dollars are likely to be poured into your state” to fight Amendment 26.
Sadly and shamefully, this is not the case. While the right wing is holding fundraisers and bringing in right-wing brand names, there’s not a single billboard in the state of Mississippi warning of the impact of this amendment. There hasn’t been a public rally or outcry of any kind. And the clock is ticking.
Here’s our to do list:
- Contact the Democratic National Committee at their website, or call them at 202-863-8000. Since Mississippi’s Democrats aren’t speaking out against Amendment 26, the National Democrats must do so.
- The focal point of this effort is WakeUpMississippi.org. Organizers there say they are trying to organize demonstrations and rallies and educate the people of Mississippi on the dangers of this amendment. To make a donation or to get involved go to http://www.wakeupmississippi.org.
- LIKE the WakeUpMississippi FaceBook Page and spread the word throughout your network.
- Send E-Mails about this effort to your family and friends.
The Facts About Amendment 26
“Fertilized Eggs Are NOT People”