The Humpty Dumpty Initiative is up for a vote next week.
A fledgling movement that seeks to add fuel to the national debate over abortion appears poised to score its first major victory Nov. 8 in Mississippi, where a constitutional amendment would declare that human life begins the moment an egg is fertilized.
The so-called personhood proposal—also known as Amendment 26—is backed by both Republican and Democratic leaders in the conservative state and has substantially outraised its opposition in funding. Mississippi is considered favorable ground because it is dominated by socially conservative Republicans, already has some of the U.S.'s strictest abortion laws, and has only one abortion clinic serving its population of 2.9 million.
The proposed amendment, one paragraph long, says any reference to a person in the state constitution will be defined as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."
It is intended to challenge Roe v. Wade, but its immediate effects will be devastating. There are no exceptions for conception resulting from rape or incest. It would ban common sorts of contraception -- the morning after pill, IUD, even the pill itself. It would deny abortion to women with life-threatening illnesses. It would open the door to the criminalization of miscarriage. It would threaten in vitro fertilization. It would necessitate every state law that contains the word 'person' being reviewed and perhaps rewritten.
And so on.
Here's Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for Choice for 25 years, on the irony that it may be the great state of Mississippi that inflicts this travesty on its people.
Mississippi is perhaps the last state with any standing to extend personhood to fetuses. A fertilized egg in Mississippi, should it be born, has one of the worst prognoses for a dignified life in the United States. What will that fertilized egg, once it is born, discover about how Mississippi treats persons?
The state ranks last among all states in health and third for the highest rate of diabetes and high blood pressure . It has the lowest per capita personal income and an unemployment rate of 10.6 percent. It is the last in academic achievement. More than 1 out of 5 people live in poverty. The state is second in the nation in terms of the imprisonment ratio (749 prisoners per 100,000 people.) If you are black, your chances of dying at birth or shortly thereafter are pretty high: fourteen out of every 1000 black infants ( 6.8 for whites) born die in childbirth or the first year of their lives. Your mother is more likely to die delivering you than mothers in 44 other states. If fertilized eggs could be afraid, surely the thought of being born in Mississippi would be traumatizing.
And now meet the
More on the 'Conceived in Rape' tour.
On November 8, keep your fingers crossed, because there are at least 30 other USian states crafting or considering this kind of virulently misogynist legislation.