November 5, 2011
Debate Over ‘Personhood Amendment’ Heating Up
Mississippi is set to vote on an amendment that would reportedly affirm that all fertilized eggs are people and make the destruction of an embryo murder, and the debate between those in favor of the measure and those in opposition to it is beginning to escalate, various media outlets reported Friday.
According to an article written by Gary Pettus of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi and published by USA Today, over a dozen religious leaders spoke out against Initiative 26, also known as the Personhood Amendment, during a rally at the state Capitol. Conversely, at least 20 medical professionals gathered to show their support for the measure at the nearby Mississippi Baptist Convention headquarters.
Rabbi Debra Kassoff, who according to Pettus, read aloud a letter opposing the initiative signed by over 40 religious leaders representing multiple faiths and churches, during a press conference in Jackson.
Additionally, Rev. Carol Borne Spencer, chairperson of the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, read a letter of opposition from Bishop Duncan Gray III of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi which claimed that the amendment could lead to "legal nightmares."
In an interview with Mallory Simon of CNN.com, Pro-Life America network director Terri Herring said that the amendment was a way for the state of Mississippi "to lead the way on a social justice issue“¦ We may have been behind on civil rights, but we can be ahead on human rights, and that's what personhood is really all about."
Mississippi's Governor Haley Barbour issued a press release supporting the measure, noting that he had cast his absentee ballot in favor of the measure even though he admits to having "some concerns" about it. Barbour added that, "all in all, I believe life begins at conception, so I think the right thing to do was to vote for it."
According to Simon, since the amendment would deem a fertilized egg as a human being, with full legal rights, it "could have an impact on" the ability of women to get morning-after or birth-control pills, and it could create complications in in-vitro fertilization treatments, as it would make it illegal to dispose of any unused eggs that had already been fertilized.
"This could lead to a nationwide debate about women's rights and abortion while setting up a possible challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade case, which makes abortion legal," CNN.com added.
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