Mississippi voters will have the chance to define the term person to include all human beings from the moment of fertilization after the state Supreme Court validated a referendum.
Amendment 26 defines person to include all human beings from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof and declares them protected under Mississippi's Bill of Rights.
The Mississippi Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights against the personhood proposal earlier this year. They argued that a ballot initiative could not be used to change the Bill of Rights, according to Mississippi state law.
But the court ruled it had no power to review any ballot initiative before the actual vote takes place.
We didn't lose on the merits of the case, but what's disappointing is that it means the measure does go on the ballot that could later be held unconstitutional, said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an ACLU attorney on the case, reported Huffington Post.
Abortion rights advocates, however, are concerned more about the implications of such an amendment than its constitutionality. They say the terms are so vague and broad that all abortions and even some birth control methods would be outlawed.
Contraceptive pills, which prevent the implantation of fertilized egg, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research, emergency contraception, contraception for rape victims, and surgeries performed during fatal pregnancy complications which could put the unborn at risk are some of the scenarios that could be outlawed under Amendment 26.
Kolbi-Molinas said the measure could have unintended consequences that reach beyond reproductive health rights altogether.
What does it mean for property or inheritance law? What happens when you're trying to make districts for voting, and you have to consider fertilized eggs as legal persons? The meaning of the provision could come up in any number of lawsuits, she said.
If Mississippians vote yes on Amendment 26, we will be honoring God and loving our neighbors in our law system, the advocate group Personhood Mississippi says in its Web site.