Constitutional Law

Abortion Opponents Back Personhood Amendments; Effort Likely to Succeed in Miss., Prof Says

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Mississippi voters will be asked to vote Nov. 8 on a “personhood” amendment, a new tack in the abortion fight that is splitting abortion opponents.

The proposed state constitutional amendment states that a fertilized egg is a person, effectively classifying abortion and some kinds of birth control as murder, the New York Times reports. The Mississippi ballot initiative has the backing of gubernatorial candidates from both major parties and is likely to pass, according to political science professor W. Martin Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University.

Backers would like to see a federal personhood amendment. Currently they are promoting ballot initiatives in a half dozen states in addition to Mississippi, including Florida and Ohio, the story says.

Some abortion opponents support the measure as an important moral gesture, while others fear it will result in court battles and bad precedent. James Bopp Jr., general counsel of National Right to Life, is among those expressing fears. “From the standpoint of protecting unborn lives it’s utterly futile,” he told the Times. “It has the grave risk that if it did get to the Supreme Court, the court would write an even more extreme abortion policy.”

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