Personhood supporters and detractors are still trying to sort out the ramifications and nuances of an anti-abortion resolution introduced yesterday. Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 555, seeking to amend the state Constitution to "protect the life of every unborn child from conception to birth."
The amendment would also prohibit public funds from being used to pay for abortions, except to save the life of the mother, and specifies that Mississippi's Constitution does not secure any right relating to abortion.
Fillingane was not immediately available for comment.
Atlee Breland, founder of Parents Against Personhood, said the resolution would have to pass out of two Senate committees and pass both the Senate and House with a two-thirds majority before it could go before voters. Then, Mississippians would vote on the proposed amendment this fall.
"We're shocked and dismayed that this has come up," Breland said. She campaigned against the Personhood Initiative last fall. She said Mississippians have already made a decision about the personhood issue, and she hopes legislators respect that decision.
"We hope that the Senate will take very, very seriously that the Constitution of the state of Mississippi is not an opinion poll," she said.
Les Riley, founder of Personhood Mississippi, said he hasn't seen the resolution, yet, but is planning to meet with Fillingane soon.
"We want to work with anybody who is trying to accomplish the same things we're accomplishing while addressing the concerns of Mississippians who were pro-life, but had concerns about the Personhood amendment," he said.
Fillingane's resolution says it would only protect unborn children "to the extent permitted by the federal Constitution."
As the courts currently interpret it, the federal Constitution gives women a right to get abortions. The resolution's nod to federal abortion law seems to fly in the face of Personhood's goal--passing a state law that will challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution.
"I wouldn't have included that particular language if I had written it," Riley said.
Breland said her organization is still analyzing what effects Fillingane's resolution would have, but they are still taking it seriously.
Mississippi already has a law that will go into effect if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The law prohibits abortions, except in cases of rape or when it is necessary to preserve the mother's life.
This is not the first time Fillingane has turned to the Constitution to pass a law. After he was unable to get voter identification through the Legislature, he started a voter initiative petition to get voter ID on the ballot. The initiative passed last November.
Read the JFP's ongoing coverage of the personhood issue at jfp.ms/personhood.