New Mississippi initiative filed

March 5th, 2013 | Posted by Atlee Breland in Birth Control | IVF | Legislation | Mississippi | Pregnancy Issues

Earlier this afternoon, Personhood Mississippi announced the filing of a new ballot initiative for 2015:

Article 14 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 is hereby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION to read:

“Section 269A.The right to life begins at conception. All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God’s image and shall have equal rights as persons under the law.

While the amendment is officially being filed by Anne Reed of Tupelo, it’s supported and sponsored by Personhood Mississippi and Personhood USA. In a telephone press conference, Personhood Mississippi president and Initiative 26 sponsor Les Riley explained that “We are doing this again, and we will keep doing this, until every child and every mother is protected in love and law, and until we see the rule of law reestablished in our nation.” Riley further claimed that the wording changes of the new initiative were designed to “clear up the confusion” that caused Mississippi voters to reject Initiative 26 by 58-42 in November 2011.

Riley and Personhood USA communications director Jennifer Mason dismissed concerns about IVF as “scare tactics”, and went on to insist — with no explanation whatsoever — that they did not want to impact IVF in 2011, and do not want to do so now. They pointed at failed Mississippi bills HB-819 and HB-937 to “answer the scare tactics” and show how IVF would not be impacted.

As it happens, we discussed HB-819 and HB-937 at some length in January 2013, because the restrictions in these two bills amount to a de facto ban on IVF. They would prohibit embryo cryopreservation, which would fall under the header of “destructive research”, impact infertility medications like Clomid, and prevent doctors from attempting to fertilize more than two eggs:

“a person or entity performing in vitro fertilization shall limit the number of in vitro human embryos created in a single cycle to the number to be transferred in that cycle”

“Destructive research” means medical procedures, scientific or laboratory research, or other kinds of investigation that kill or injure the subject of such research.”
(Mississippi HB-819 and HB-937, 2013)

These bills were opposed by state infertility doctors, by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, because of their grave impact on the treatment of infertility.

Make no mistake, these restrictions would drastically impact IVF. They would prevent doctors from being able to help infertility patients safely and effectively build families.

This example legislation, which Personhood Mississippi cites as evidence that it does not oppose birth control or treatment for pregnancy complications, would further prohibit “birth control that can be clinically proven to kill a person” and “medical treatment which is intended to terminate the life of a pre-born child”. As we have explained in depth, this would encompass treatment for ectopic pregnancy with drugs such as methotrexate.

Ultimately, the wording of this amendment differs very little from the failed Initiative 26. It doesn’t “clear up any confusion”, at least not in the sense that the organizers mean. Voters didn’t oppose Initiative 26 because they didn’t understand the wording about “fertilization or the functional equivalent” — they voted against it because they had serious concerns about its unintended consequences for infertility treatment, pregnancy complications, and birth control.

By pointing at the enacting legislation as evidence of their intentions, Personhood Mississippi has made it perfectly clear that these are not “unintended consequences”, and that the new initiative would do exactly what we’ve always claimed Initiative 26 would have done: restrict doctors from being able to treat patients with infertility or serious pregnancy complications, and potentially impact some forms of birth control.

We appreciate their clarification of these important issues, and look forward to discussing them in depth with Mississippi voters over the next 18 months as we work to defeat this initiative.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses