Personhood: A Pandora's Box | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Personhood: A Pandora's Box

Photo by Kristin Brenemen

Atlee Breland picked her three young children up from preschool and drove home to Brandon. A self-employed computer programmer, Breland is able to adjust her day around her children. Her husband, Greg Breland, came home later in the afternoon, and the family sat down and ate dinner together.

After she bathed the kids and put them to bed, Breland read yet another comment online about the Mississippi Supreme Court's decision to allow the Personhood Initiative on the November ballot. It angered her. As a mother because of in-vitro therapy, she was frustrated that people didn't understand the initiative, which would legally redefine the word "person" to include fertilized eggs and could affect many families negatively.

Breland was confused why somebody had yet to do something about it.

"I'm going to stop it," she told her husband. At 9 p.m. that Friday, just a little more than one month ago, she began the website She started a political action committee and gave speeches, sometimes spending six hours a day in her car. She picks up and distributes yard signs, and she drives to Oxford and Biloxi to address rallies and brainstorm with other activists.

"It turns out I know a whole lot of people," Breland said.

The mother calls herself an unlikely activist. An attractive, thin blond with a sweet voice and pleasant smile, Breland is not a poor or disadvantaged woman--in-vitro fertilization therapy is expensive.

Protesting is not something she ever thought she would do. Part of her message is to erase the stigma people attach to infertility.

"I was an infertility patient. It doesn't go away; it doesn't end," Breland said.

"Infertility is more common than breast cancer. Everyone wears pink ribbons for breast cancer. Infertility is not shameful. It's a disease, and I got medical treatment. My husband had kidney cancer and got surgery."

She tells anyone who will listen that the Yes on 26 supporters are not telling the whole story. The 21 words in the ballot initiative leave too much room for judges and legislators to make choices about what happens in women's wombs. Breland doesn't trust them: "Mississippi can't draw up voting districts without federal government oversight. How are we going to trust it to oversee medical treatment?"

Does Nothing for Children
The Personhood Initiative is short: "Should the term 'person' be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?" That is how voters will read it on the ballot. The secretary of state's website explains that if passed, the initiative would amend the Mississippi Constitution.

"There are so many things we don't know about this initiative," Olga Osby told a packed amphitheater at Jackson State University at a town-hall meeting Oct. 12. The social-work professor looked up at students--most of them young women--and some visitors to the JSU campus. She went through a long list of things the initiative leaves unclear.

• It makes no exceptions in cases of rape or incest, or for the life of the mother.

• It could potentially outlaw in-vitro fertilization and birth control.

• It could create criminal investigations into miscarriages.

• It could affect congressional districts for voting or other population equations.

Osby spoke about the unintended consequences of the simple wording, a common theme of Initiative 26 opponents.

"Mississippi is the only state with a personhood measure on the ballot this year," Osby said. "Similar propositions are planned in Florida, Montana and Ohio. Colorado faced it twice; both times, it died."

Osby, who is black, showed the crowd a picture of billboard depicting a young, black girl. The billboard read, "The most dangerous place for an African American is the womb."

"The pro-life movement has started linking race to the issue of abortion," Osby said. "I take it personally. We need to be careful. Race should not come into this. It's dangerous living in Mississippi."

She gave the crowd some specific statistics why: Mississippi is 50th in infant mortality. In Mississippi, a child is abused or neglected every 60 minutes, a child dies before her first birthday every 19 hours, and a child dies from gunfire once a week. One in five Mississippi children lives in poverty.

"Mississippi leads the nation in every negative health indication. We are 50th in quality of life for women," Osby said.
"We are all pro-life. Mississippi has a great deal to do to care for children."

Osby suggested that improving life for all Mississippi residents will lower the number of women who are forced to face difficult decisions about pregnancy. "26 does nothing to improve lives of children."

20 Percent Survive
Dr. Randall Hines, a fertilization specialist who practices in Flowood, treated Atlee Breland's infertility. He also spoke at the JSU town-hall meeting. "In America and in most democratic countries, we train people in health care," he said. "Those people invest time, money and energy in their training."

That's exactly why people seek out trained health-care providers, he said, so that all the best options are on the table. Hines said Initiative 26 would interfere.

"We will bring the government into the clinic and into the bedroom. When was the last time anybody here went to the Capitol for medical advice?" he asked the crowd.

State legislators and attorneys would interpret what the proposed amendment means, not trained doctors. Hines gave the example of a fertilized egg that, instead of implanting itself in the wall of womb, gets stuck in the fallopian tube. That type of ectopic pregnancy would be called a "person" if this measure passes, even though that "person" would never be born.

"It cannot and will not result in the life of a child," Hines said.

"It can rupture and kill the woman."

He described a scenario of 30 days after the election, sometime in mid-December, where a woman suffering an ectopic pregnancy comes to an emergency room in pain. If Mississippi voters vote for Personhood, ER doctors might not be able to help her--legally.

"When I go to an operating room and operate to save that woman, I'm committing homicide," Hines said.

"Approximately 20 percent of fertilized eggs result in children," Hines added. "Most fertilized eggs do not become children. All fertilized eggs are not equal."

The proposed amendment would damage the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship. "It's a radical departure to the way we have become accustomed to practicing medicine," Hines said. "We want to make decisions based on science, based on experience, based on published studies."

Hines said the amendment would affect the legality and accessibility of birth control. He said it's quite possible that Plan B, a morning-after emergency contraceptive, would be declared illegal. It's also highly likely that intrauterine devices, from the old copper ones still placed inside some women to the newer, popular Mirena devices, would be illegal because they all prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the wall of the uterus.

Even some birth-control pills might be considered a threat to a fertilized egg.

"So many medicines have so many mechanisms. It's really complicated," Hines said. "I'm worried about all of it. Birth control can affect implantation. It's difficult science. I don't think law is the place to sort that out."

Several health-profession organizations are opposed to Initiative 26, including the Mississippi State Medical Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine.

Maybe, Baby
Bear Atwood, a lawyer with ACLU Mississippi, says a personhood amendment would force doctors to practice law. "Could this happen? Could miscarriage be investigated as homicide?" Atwood asked the crowd at the JSU town hall meeting. "Maybe."

Atwood said that is the answer to almost every question the vague Initiative 26 brings to mind. Will it outlaw birth control? Will it put oppressive controls on women's activities? Will it drive doctors away from Mississippi? Maybe.

"(The word) person is 9,000 times in state law," Atwood said. "Next year, our Legislature could have to address statutory provisions."

The trend is to charge women who have miscarriages with homicide, she said, citing a Florida example. Redefining the word "person" to include a fertilized egg would encourage prosecutors and politicians who already want to criminalize some miscarriages.

"We are the fattest state," Atwood said. "If a pregnant woman eats at McDonald's, can she be accused of child abuse? How about the woman who stays in a violent relationship?"


"There is a drive to unfund Planned Parenthood and make birth control difficult to obtain," she said. "Do we really want to ask young men and women to sneak across the border to get birth control?"

Supporters of the Personhood Initiative are purposefully downplaying its language, Atwood said. "Don't worry about it, the Legislature will work on it, they say.

"I want the Legislature to work on jobs and the economy. I don't want them interpreting a measure so broad and so vague, you can't understand it," Atwood said.

"Chaos is never good for women."

Heaven and Hell
The Rev. Mark Anthony Williamson, pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, spoke briefly at the JSU town hall meeting. He said he was pro-life and offered four points from a Christian perspective, points he said most Christians would agree on.

"One: God gives life. Two: It is God that removes life. Three: God forgives. Four: God allows choices." He had to wait a few seconds until the cheers and amens quieted down. "This amendment has wording in it that doesn't allow changes," he said before sitting down again.

He's not the only spiritual leader against Initiative 26. Others include the Rev. Hope Morgan Ward, bishop of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Rev. Duncan M. Gray III, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi.

Michelle Colon doesn't represent a church, but she is as blunt as a preacher at a revival. "I'm traveling the state every freaking weekend because people don't know what this initiative is about," she said. She wishes more people were upfront and loud about the intentions of the personhood supporters.

"This law is designed to ban abortion. In their eyes, birth control is abortion," she told the JSU town-hall meeting.

"Don't get it twisted."

Colon told the JSU crowd that the supporters of Initiative 26 refer to women as whores and murderers. "I damn sure don't want other voters in Mississippi making that decision for me. I was so ticked off nothing was being done, I started my own group, Hell No! on 26 and 27," she said. (Initiative 27 would require voter identification at polls.)

Personal Economics
Attendees at the JSU town-hall meeting wrote questions on index cards for the panel to answer. Most of the questions were practical economic concerns. Would a Personhood amendment mean that a father would have to start paying child support sooner?

"Maybe," Bear Atwood said. The far-reaching implications could affect inheritance laws, also. Atwood said even donating sperm would have ramifications. Citizenship would also require redefining.

The questions kept coming. Would you have to get a Social Security number for your fertilized egg? Could you count your egg as a deduction on your tax return? "Now we get the IRS involved," Atwood said. "You guys want to bring the IRS in your bedroom?"

Atwood said there's a reason why church and state for centuries have used one simple moment in time to define personhood. "Birth is a concrete moment," she said. "They can put a time on it. They can put a place on it."

Citizen Carcinoma
Dr. Paul Seago finds it absurd that if Initiative 26 passes this November, a carcinoma could have the same rights as his teenage daughter. Seago, who practices gynecologic oncology in Jackson, spoke at a news conference Oct. 7 at the Capitol. He and Hines, the infertility physician who treated Atlee Breland, represented the group Mississippi Doctors Against 26.

They called Initiative 26 a law of unintended consequences. "Whether intended or not, we as doctors will have to deal with these consequences," Seago said. "This initiative is bad for the practice of medicine, bad for women's health and bad for Mississippi families."

Seago said that the measure could eliminate common birth-control options, including the pill and IUDs. Supporters of the measure have said otherwise, suggesting an emotional overreaction from their political opponents.

The doctors said identifying the moment of fertilization is not so simple.

"We have no test to know exactly when this happens," Seago said. "We also know that more than 40 percent of the time, the fertilized egg will fail to develop past this early stage even in optimal circumstances."

If the initiative passes, women and families would face drastic consequences, the doctors said. Hines said in-vitro options for infertile couples could be illegal.

"Mississippians face some of the worst health outcomes in the nation," Hines said. "Health-care teams with best practices should decide what is best, not politicians and lawyers." He again gave the example of a pregnancy occurring in the fallopian tubes, an ectopic pregnancy. Initiative 26, if passed, could protect these fertilized eggs outside the uterus that endanger the life of the mother.

"Most people know somebody who has had an ectopic pregnancy," Hines said. "(Personhood is) one of the most intrusive ways government can intrude in health care. You don't want your doctor worried about the law."

Seago said he worries that if Initiative 26 passes in November, it might take effect 30 days later. He described a scenario of a woman with an ectopic pregnancy walking into an emergency room Dec. 15. "What happens that night?"

If Personhood became law, malpractice premiums would rise for Mississippi doctors because doctors could face criminal charges for providing the best care for individual patients, Hines argued.

Hines brought up other concerns, such as the legal trouble a pregnant mother drinking coffee might face.

Seago said his 15-year-old daughter was shocked when another doctor explained to her the ballot initiative had no exclusion for rape or incest.

"You should have seen her eyes," he said.

A Civil Affair
The 200 or so people who came Oct. 25 to hear an expert panel discuss Initiative 26 at Mississippi College played by the rules. It was clear from the beginning that college officials weren't going to tolerate a shouting match or a tossing of insults. The audience wasn't going to get to ask questions, either. Some who came to listen wore large red-and-white "Yes on 26" stickers. Some brought kids.

No one yelled or made a scene. A few stifled coughs and whispers erupted at some points in the complicated symposium.

For the most part, it was a civil affair.

Jonathan Will, an assistant professor and head of MC's Bioethics and Health Law Center, moderated the symposium, "Exploring the Implications of Mississippi's Personhood Initiative." At the start, he stressed the discussion would be objective and informative although about emotional issues.

To set the tone of the discussion, an embryologist explained the basic physiology of fertilization. Dr. Michael Tucker, who is an in-vitro fertilization pioneer and top expert, showed pictures of an incubator, a cell freezer and cryo tanks. He said 450 infertility clinics operate now in the United States.

"Our business is to bring two gametes together," he said. Of the 100 to 200 million sperm released, only 1 to 100 wind up in the fallopian tube. In-vitro fertilization doctors select the best quality sperm for the oocyte, or egg cell.

He showed a short video clip of a glass micro needle poking an egg to place a single sperm in its cytoplasm. He called this the beginning of the initialization affect. The first day, the zygote forms. The second day, it becomes a four-cell entity. On the third day, it grows to eight cells and is only about 120 microns wide. That's one-tenth of a millimeter, just less than the width of a strand of hair. Day four and five, the eight-cell entity becomes a morula. Then, sometime between the fifth and seventh day, the morula becomes the blastocyst.

"We treat these microscopic entities with respect," Tucker said. "For the first three days, the egg is running on its own maternal quest."

He said the sperm doesn't do much except be there during these early stages.

"The fertilization event is extremely extensive. It's not a simple discrete moment in time," he said. It takes 38 hours for the four-cell entity to emerge. It's 50 hours of development before the sperm has any involvement. At 70 hours of development, the entity blossoms into segments like a soccer ball. On the fifth, sixth and seventh days, the inner cell mass starts to form. "Everything before this is pre-embryo," Tucker said. "It's difficult to conceive of that entity as an individual."

Blastocysts select themselves out, meaning that most of them will not develop any further: 65 percent of fertilized eggs in nature don't make babies, and 50 percent of pre-embryos are chromosomally abnormal, Tucker said.

"The biology of reproduction can be messy and ineffective."

Keep it Simple
Stephen Crampton, vice president of legal affairs and general counsel for Liberty Counsel, a national nonprofit policy group that opposes abortion rights, told a joke before making his case at the Oct. 25 Mississippi College symposium.

"There's a reason we call it practicing law. We never quite get it right," Crampton said.

Crampton said the use of terms is significant. "Definitions set the stage and set the tone," he said. Others had coined the term "pre-embryo" to reduce the status of an unborn child, he gave as one example. He had another one. "'Reproductive Rights' is a loaded euphemism."

But to him, "personhood" is simple. "Personhood is nothing more than to return to a principle foundation stone," he said. "There is a moment male and female chromosomes come together." Crampton said personhood is a first-principle idea that does not address reproductive rights or would change any other laws. "It would not automatically outlaw abortion," he said.

Glenn Cohen, assistant professor of law at Harvard Law School, jumped in via Skype on a large screen near the panel of experts.

"I'm going to call a spade a spade here," Cohen interjected. "You really think it will have nothing to do with abortion?"

Will then took the opportunity to ask another expert on the panel what might be the legal implications if the initiative passed. Rebecca Kiessling, a family-law attorney based in Rochester, Mich., who identifies herself as conceived in rape, offered possible scenarios.

"The attorney general could announce he will begin enforcing homicide statutes. Then there would be a lawsuit in federal court, then an injunction," Kiessling said.

"Or local prosecutors would announce they plan to enforce homicide laws. There would be a lawsuit, then an injunction."

Kiessling suggested all parties would have to wait out the courts as the Personhood Initiative went through the legal system.

Caitlin Borgmann, a professor at City University of New York School of Law, challenged Kiessling and Crampton on their defense of Personhood. "I agree words are important," she said. "If you support this ... wouldn't you have to oppose all abortions?"

She talked about the many kinds of birth control and in-vitro fertilization methods that, if Crampton and Kiessling took wording seriously, should also be outlawed.

"Can you imprison a pregnant woman? Can you imprison the child she is carrying?" she asked in a calm professorial tone.

At Least Six
"Whether you are for or against it, this is a bad amendment. It is ambiguous," Cohen said via Skype. "Fertilization could mean six things. You are asking the courts to decide. You want to be clear what you are doing."

Kiessling argued that the proposed amendment is framework only. Borgmann and Cohen countered that the language is too ambiguous even for that. Fertilization, as Tucker explained it, is a week-long process that doesn't happen in a single moment as an egg grows from zygote to blastocyst.

"Which of the six things is it?" Cohen asked. "These are scientific definitions."

Kiessling said even the process itself had a beginning. "It happens at the moment of penetration," she said.

"You are opening up a Pandora's box," Tucker told her.

"We have no control over what courts do," Crampton said. He repeated the idea that a personhood amendment is laying a foundation stone. He added a bit of religion.

"To deny life is there is calling upon us the wrath of God," he said.

Will, an effective moderator, turned the panel to the observation that if passed, the personhood amendment would not be self-executing--it does not mandate any action.

"A principle is non-self-executing," he said. Mississippi has an existing statutory framework. The state Supreme Court could read the new amendment as applying to the entire code. If that happened, Will said it could possibly lead to the state closing IVF clinics.

"Not all Mississippi law has to show intent," Will said.

"That is fear mongering," Kiessling responded. Some in the audience mumbled.

Be Prepared
Borgmann returned to the logic and the semantics of the initiative's wording. If you think fertilized eggs are persons, and if you also don't want a woman to abuse a child, she posed that you would also want to prevent a pregnant woman from drinking and should promote the prosecution of pregnant women who act irresponsibly. Borgmann said you would also believe fertilization clinics should be closed since they can discard embryos.

"Discarding is wrong," Kiessling interjected. Renee Whitley, who had been silent, spoke up at that point. Whitley is volunteer co-chairwoman of the national advocacy committee for RESOLVE: the National Infertility Association, a non-profit organization. She's also a mother because of IVF therapy.

"IVF patients, they are you and me, your neighbor, your daughter. It's one in seven couples," Whitley said. "It's been 30 years since the first IVF cycle in Mississippi."

She reiterated what others had already said: the proposed amendment is not self-executing and will need regulating legislation.

Crampton said a personhood amendment is not inherently inconsistent with legal IVF therapy, and implying so is fear mongering. Mississippi law already protects the unborn child from intentional injuries, he said, citing statute 97-3-37 (Homicide; killing of an unborn child).

"That statute wouldn't apply any more," Amelia McGowan of ACLU Mississippi said. Because the amendment would view a fertilized egg with the same rights of a person, the law would no longer apply. Earlier, she pointed out that the word "person" shows up 9,000 times in Mississippi law.

Doctors in the state could face liability in numerous situations involving the presence of a potential fertilized egg, she warned.

"Do we want to interfere in doctor-patient relationships?" McGowan asked.

Kiessling didn't think letting the Legislature figure out an enforcement code for the amendment was a bad idea. "The legislative process is more in tune to people," she said. "With legislative hearings, people would have input in the process. This is framework, not legislation." She then compared the Personhood Initiative to the 14th Amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights, which granted citizenship and the rights of citizens to newly freed slaves.

"If your view really is the Legislature is the right place to do it, it's ironic," Cohen said. "I don't understand why you are arguing. ... Why not do all this through legislation?"

Crampton said it was because a Mississippi citizen initiated a petition.

"If we are taking a position about human life, we ought to be consistent," Will said. "Is the legislation consistent?"

"Why would you set yourself up?" Tucker said, looking at Kiessling. Under the proposed amendment, a one-cell zygote is a person, when it could become one or two or three entities, the doctor said, explaining twins and triplets. "It shows a lack of appreciation for the continuum of growth," he said.

"Splitting is a physical, mechanical act that has nothing do with genetics. The idea that genetics is destiny is horrific."

"If an embryo becomes two persons, who was it?" Cohen asked. "Sue or Sally? Who was the person?" He said legal complications would follow.

"When you look at the scientific side of reproduction, you realize there is nothing simple about it," Whitley said. "Is freezing allowed? What about embryos that develop (abnormally) in a dish?" She wondered if police would investigate doctors for manslaughter in such cases.

"Do you need passports for embryos?" Tucker asked. Personhood is clearly a wedge issue, he said, that will tie up the Legislature and cost a lot of resources.

Tucker paused and looked at the audience, as if he were looking for someone to make eye contact.

"Is this state prepared?

JFP reporters will be tweeting and blogging from watch parties for and against Initiative 26 this evening. Assistant editor Valerie Wells will be with the No on 26 campaign at the Ole Tavern on George Street. Follow her on Twitter @sehoy13. JFP reporter Elizabeth Waibel will be with the Yes on 26 campaign at AJ's on the Lake in Ridgeland; follow her @lizwaibel.

Also check or @jfppolitics and @jxnfreepress for more real-time updates and election results.

Related Links
[Editorial] If Not Now, When?
[My Turn] It's About Women's Rights
[Barbour] Danger Looming Large
On the Ballot
Churches and Campaigns
Inside Yes on 26
Voter ID: Excessive Regulation?
Voting Long Under Fire
Eminent Domain: ‘Taking' Too Much?

Previous Comments


Wow, look at this list of faith leaders against 26. These are some of the wisest and most compassionate spiritual leaders in our state: Capitol Press Conference Thursday Faith Leaders Won’t Support Initiative 26 Who: Faith leaders from throughout Mississippi What: Press conference stating faith leaders’ opposition to Initiative 26 When: 11 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 3 Where: State Capitol, 2nd Floor Confirmed Attendees: Rev. Carol Borne Spencer – Representing Ms. Episcopal Bishop Duncan M. Gray III Rev. Lisa Garvin – Representing Ms. Methodist Bishop Hope Morgan Ward Rev. C.J. Rhodes – Mt. Helm Baptist Church Rev. Tony Yarber – P.H.A.T Church Rev. Gus McCoy - Youth Pastor at New Jerusalem Church and Director of the Metro Youth Initiative Rabbi Debra Kasoff - Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville, MS Rev. Rob Hill – Broadmeadow United Methodist Church in Jackson, MS Rabbi Valeri Cohen – Beth Israel Congregation Rev. Rims Barber – Retired BACKGROUND: Leaders from many faiths and denominations will gather at the State Capitol on Thursday to tell voters that Initiative 26 is not in line with Mississippi values. They do not support Initiative 26 because it’s government going too far. The following is a roundup of statements made by Mississippi clergy against Initiative 26: “Many of us will vote against Initiative 26, believing it to exclude tragic conflicts in some life situations and to have unintended and unexplored consequences.” – Statement by the Reverend Hope Morgan Ward, Bishop of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church “I appreciate the intentions of those who have supported Proposition 26, what has been called the Personhood Amendment. I share their passion for the sanctity of human life. However, I am gravely concerned about the unintended consequences of this legislation. The moral nightmares of doctors no longer able to give preference to saving the life of the mother in such cases as an ectopic pregnancy and the uncertain impact on in-vitro fertilization are real … While I recognize the complexities of such moral decisions and the need for each of us to make our own informed and prayerful choices, you need to know that I share the aforementioned concerns about the unintended consequences of this legislation. Thus, I cannot support Proposition 26 on the November 8th ballot in Mississippi.” – Statement by Rev. Duncan M. Gray III, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Mississippi “Although the Diocese of Jackson is not taking a position of public support for this amendment, individual Catholics, having formed their consciences, may vote as they so choose. The Roman Catholic Church and her bishops are unequivocally pro-life; however, we do not always publicly support every initiative that comes before us in the name of pro-life.” – Statement of Bishop Joseph Latino, Mississippi Catholic Bishop “For many reasons that we have heard in the public debate, but perhaps most because it will rob us of our God-given obligation to make tough moral choices when life is at stake, we oppose Initiative 26. It is a blunt instrument which, if passed, will harm Mississippi women and their families both physically and spiritually. Because God has sanctified not only fetal life, but all life, we urge Mississippians to vote against Initiative 26.” -- Statement by Rabbi Debra Kassoff For a full list of organizations and individual who oppose Initiative 26 go to


Thanks to the Religous Leaders who have the courage, the wisdom and the understanding to stand against such a confusing, poorly put together initiative. These brave and powerful leaders are not advocating "Abortion" as a method of birth control; instead, they are speaking to the ambiguity of the initiative and the fact that there could be unintended consequences. I never thought that I would be giving a positive stroke to Gov. Barber and because of the many positions he has taken during his governance of this State against poor people and the middle class; however, I am relieved to know that he has at least given PAUSE to voting "Yes" on this initiative. He has also made it pubicly known that at best, it is confusing and does not give a clear directive to the limits of such an initiative if passed.


Why, yes, Personhood would end the pill: so sayeth Personhood royalty this week: Personhood pastor: Amendment would ban the pill Except it is also about birth control, as I learned firsthand when I was in Mississippi recently. One of the local doctors most closely associated with the Yes on 26 movement, Beverly McMillan, told me unequivocally that the IUD and the morning-after pill would be banned, and has written that she “painfully agree[s] that birth control pills do in fact cause abortions.” Another doctor, Freda Bush, who has gone on television to claim that contraception wouldn’t be banned, wouldn’t give a straight answer about which contraceptives would be banned, claiming she wasn’t an authority. She herself already refuses to prescribe the highly effective IUD out of the fear that it would block a fertilized egg – in her mind, an “abortion.” But on the Diane Rehm show Monday, pro-Personhood pastor Walter Hoye was even clearer, saying, “Any birth control that ends the life of that human being will be impacted by this measure.” Asked, “What about the birth control pill?” Hoyes paused and said, “That falls into the same category.” No wonder rank-and-file healthcare employees aren’t sure: Not only has the amendment not even been voted on yet, its supporters can’t get their own message straight. The video also makes much of the anti-26 Mississippi for Healthy Families being “not even from Mississippi” because it’s received funding from Planned Parenthood affiliates outside the state. But as the sleuths at the grass-roots anti-26 efforts noticed, one-third of that funding was in-kind contributions, for a total of under $100,000 in cash from Planned Parenthood. Meanwhile, the total amount of cash the Yes on 26 campaign got from the Colorado-based Personhood USA, according to its filings with the secretary of state: over $300,000. Meanwhile, both Hoye and Rose are based in California, not quite the Mississippi heartland. So in one of the nation's poorest states, these fools want to ban BIRTH CONTROL. I swear: They just want a huge underclass to whine about and blame everything on. I really dislike these folks. They are so far from pro-life people that I respect for their views and ideals that I can't even express it.


It is neither hypothetical nor fear mongering to say that, if prop-26 passes: "Could miscarriage be investigated as homicide? . . .Maybe." This isn't a hypothetical because at least one Mississippi woman (correction, one Mississippi teenager) has already been charged with murder on the basis of miscarriage. As the Guardian reported, Rennie Gibbs "became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence." On October 27, 2011, the Mississippi Supreme Court issued an order allowing the prosecution of Rennie Gibbs to proceed. You can pull that decision at and entering the case number for Gibbs v. State which is 2010-M-819. Given that cases such as Rennie Gibbs' are happening even before the passage of the personhood initiative, it is not fear-mongering or baseless to assert that prosecutors will be pressing forward with more criminal investigations into miscarriages after the passage of the personhood initiative.


I attended the "Hell No" to Init. 26 rally today. There were many people there and of course, the INSANE, obsessed with taking away women's rights, "Right to Life" had its representatives there. On a huge sign, there was a fetus, black of course and with the caption: BLACK GENOCIDE". I spoke with a woman who said that she was an RN and that she is "concerned about the # of black babies who are killed in this state on a daily basis. I asked her if she supported any of the black babies who have been born to children through incest and rape. The only thing that I can say at this point is that we must go to the polls and vote "NO" on 26. After talking with the "Right to Life" Gang, it was made clear to me that all of the concerns that have been voiced about banning birth control, i.e., pills, IUDs and not allowing in-vitro fertilization, all rights will be taken from women, their sexual partners and their physicians. I got a chance to ask one of the gentlemen if he knew that Dr. Beverly Smith McMillin had performed scores of abortions in Jackson and at the very clinic that they spend time picketing daily? I also asked if he knew that Dr. Freda Bush worked with Planned Parenthood and also was a partner in the practice with McMillin. These two people have capitalized off of the very system that they are now fighting so hard against. Dr. Bush starts her commercial by saying, "You don't have to be a lawyer or a medical doctor to know........." This woman knows what happens when a woman has an ectopic pregnancy and that the bottom line is that the woman could die if the fetus is not removed before rupturing; yet, she smiles and attempts to defend this egregious piece of rhetoric that will not give women and their MD's a right to save her life. At best, this is HYPOCRITICAL! Dr. Bush nor Dr. McMillin gives any disposition for post-arrangements for these occurances. According to the initiatice they are trying to pass, there is no exception for rape or incest. I agree with Donna, at best, these are "FOOLS"!


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