As election approaches, 'personhood' debate continues

(WMC-TV) - In two days, Mississippi voters will go to the polls for the state's General Election.  With the clock ticking, a monumental ballot measure is still up for debate.

Initiative 26 says, "The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof," meaning that the destruction of human embryos would be outlawed.

The measure on Mississippi's General Election ballot Tuesday has been the focus of rallies, town hall meetings and national debate.  Fellow Republicans even put Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to the fire, after he said he is for the initiative, but voiced safety concerns.

"I am concerned about some of the ramifications on in-vitro fertilization and ectopic pregnancies," said Barbour.

After that comment on MSNBC's Daily Rundown, Barbour later reiterated his position.

"I think the right thing to do was to vote for it, which I did this afternoon," said Barbour Thursday.

Barbour is not the only Mississippian trying to fully grasp the measure.  This critical vote will alter the state constitution, set future precedence for Mississippi law and impact the medical industry.

The amendment would ban abortions, including pregnancies from rape or incest.  It would also outlaw birth control that causes pregnancy termination, such as "morning after" pills.  It would not affect daily oral contraceptives, such as "the pill."

Embryos created in laboratories could not be destroyed, and embryos taken from women who want to have a future child could not be frozen.

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy released a legal analysis saying physicians would still be, exempt from prosecution for terminating an ectopic pregnancy or accidental homicide of an unborn person.

For Mississippi citizens, the debate is personal.

"We're fighting for the preservation of the unborn in the State of Mississippi, and we feel like that is a cause worth our strongest efforts and our most committed prayers and our untiring labors," said Live Action Executive Director Brad Pruitt.

"I oppose this because, as a woman living in Mississippi, I know what's best for me and my reproductive health," said Mississippi resident Michelle Colon.  "I'm an adult woman.  I'm a taxpayer.  I'm a citizen of this state and I know what's best for me and my body."

The polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesday.  In addition to the General Election, Mississippians will also vote in the special election to fill the remainder of Senator Jack Gordon's term.

To read the constitutional amendments, click here.

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