Personhood: First Mississippi, then America

The Planned Parenthood logo (Pic via advanceusa.org)

On Wednesday, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards sent out an email imploring supporters to pay careful attention to the so-called “Personhood” movement, which has gained considerable support in Mississippi. “This ballot initiative is about more than just one state,” writes Richards. “Anti-choice activists hope that a win in Mississippi will lead to a national movement.

Mississippians will decide whether or not to include “every human being from the moment of fertilization” in its definition of “person” in just three short weeks. Though “Personhood” proponents argue that the state’s Amendment 26 is simply an effort to ban abortions, critics say it would also ban birth control, and create hurdles to in vitro fertilization.

In her email to Planned Parenthood supporters, Richards includes a copy of a letter from Felicia Brown-Williams, outreach director at Mississippians for Healthy Families, who wrote that initiative 26 would “cause terrible suffering across the state.”

From the letter:

If we lose, even in cases of incest and rape, even if a woman’s life is in danger, she will be forced to carry a pregnancy because all abortions will be banned.

If we lose, women may be banned from using the birth control pill, IUDS, and other contraception.

If we lose, life-saving treatments for pregnant women facing conditions like cancer may be blocked.

Personhood USA has made similar efforts across the country. In Ohio, the group’s affiliate recently collected enough signatures to begin an official petition drive. The group now must gain 380,000 valid voter signatures to gain placement on a future ballot.

The “Personhood” movement didn’t gain much steam in Florida last year, due to lack of signatures. But Personhood Florida head Bryan Longworth has vowed to ramp up efforts to collect signatures for placement on Florida’s 2012 ballot.

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Virginia Chamlee

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