Yesterday evening, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed HB-1196, sponsored by Rep. Andy Gipson. We’ve had a lot of questions, from both the public and the media, about our position on this bill.
First and most importantly, Parents Against Personhood does not oppose the larger goal of this bill. We do not support it either, because we are neutral on questions of elective abortion.
HB-1196 is primarily a ban on abortion. It bans all abortions after a heartbeat is detectable, which happens roughly two weeks after you miss your period. It will effectively end abortion in Mississippi, but it does contain exceptions for life-threatening pregnancy complications. It also imposes a mandatory ultrasound requirement. It does not contain exceptions for rape and incest.
We limit our concerns to one specific clause: the portion of the bill which defines the “unborn human individual” as beginning at fertilization.
We’re aware that the presence of this clause means that HB-1196 is already being widely viewed as a personhood bill. We are alert for any possible attempt to create “back-door personhood”, and oppose all legislative efforts to circumvent the decisive defeat of Initiative 26 and impose personhood on Mississippi.
Our concern is whether putting this language into the law creates legal precedent for courts or future legislation to declare that personhood exists in Mississippi law. Indeed, courts in other states have cited similar legislation in personhood-related rulings.
We want to be very clear that our questions are limited to this one clause, and that we do not oppose the heartbeat bill. We do oppose language which defines personhood as beginning at fertilization. We will be carefully examining this clause to determine whether courts could potentially interpret it to create personhoood.
Again, we do not support or oppose this bill’s intentions, or the majority of its language. We do express our reservations about this specific clause, and the way in which it could be used in other contexts.
We encourage you to support or oppose the goals of HB-1196 and similar legislation as your own conscience dictates.