Personhood Redux | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Personhood Redux

Just three months after voters turned down a Personhood Initiative, at least one legislator is trying to get it back on the ballot.

Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, introduced a concurrent resolution Monday in an effort to amend the state constitution to "protect the life of every unborn child from conception to birth."

While Fillingane's proposed amendment specifies that Mississippi's Constitution does not secure any rights relating to abortion, it 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 flies in the face of Personhood's goal: passing a state law to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution.

"I wouldn't have included that particular language if I had written it," Personhood Mississippi founder Les Riley told the Jackson Free Press this week.

Still, Riley said he plans to meet with Fillingane and wants to work with anyone who is trying to accomplish goals similar to the Personhood organization.

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," said Breland, who campaigned against the Personhood Initiative last fall.

Mississippians have already made a decision about the personhood issue, she said, and she hopes legislators respect that decision. Breland said her organization is analyzing what effects Fillingane's resolution would have, but they are still taking it seriously.

"We hope that the Senate will take very, very seriously that the Constitution of the state of Mississippi is not an opinion poll," Breland said.

Fillingane was not immediately available for comment about the bill.

Read the JFP's ongoing coverage of the personhood issue at http://www.jfp.ms/personhood.

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