Personhood Heads to the Capitol | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Personhood Heads to the Capitol

Just over a week into the legislative session, we're already seeing some movement on "personhood" bills, to define when human life and legal protections begin, similar to Initiative 26, which voters turned down in November.

Les Riley, founder of Personhood Mississippi, told the Jackson Free Press this morning that two bills—one in the house and one in the senate—should be introduced and given bill numbers sometime next week.

The bills will be similar to Initiative 26 in that they will define life as beginning at conception, Riley said, though he would not say who was introducing the bills.

"It'll be similar, but it will address the issues that people raised," he said; specifically, in vitro fertilization, miscarriages, contraception and ectopic pregnancies. Riley said polling after the election showed that many Mississippians are anti-abortion, but voted against the measure due to concerns about how it would affect contraception and other medical treatments.

Riley also referred to a comment former Gov. Haley Barbour made a few days before the November vote, saying the measure should have gone through the Legislature.

"If somebody had offered legislation in the Mississippi Legislature that says life begins at conception, that would pass," Barbour said at the time. "However, what has been put on the ballot is a little ambiguous."

Although the bills have not officially been introduced in the Legislature, some sources say one of the bills might be called the Humane Treatment of Human Embryos bill, based on a similar bill in Georgia, Ethical Treatment of Embryos Act. Another bill might address a constitutional amendment, possibly called "The Life at Conception (Personhood) Amendment."

For ongoing and archived coverage of proposed personhood legislation, visit

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