Effects of Initiative 26 avoided

November 10, 2011




News Editor


On Tuesday night, drama came to an end as a majority of Mississippians voted against Initiative 26, a controversial ballot iniative created to legally protect the rights of unborn children in Mississippi.


Although the text of the amendment appeared simple, it had many underlying implications that were complex.


It challenged the perceptions of where the boundary is between life and death, by defining “personhood as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”


According to Yes on 26’s fact sheet on its official website, Iniative 26 intendeded to stop the abortion industry in Mississippi, as well as economic incentives behind cloning. It said it would not ban in-vitro fertilization, prevent doctors from saving a mother’s life during complicated pregnancies, make miscarriages a criminal offense or outlaw normal contraceptives such as the pill.


Other instances such as rape, incest or the use of drugs such as RU486 would be prohibited.


Though many questioned the amendment’s exact meaning, Yes on 26’s website said, “Personhood is a constitutional definition that establishes a principle. It does not attempt to set the policy and procedure for every situation. Personhood establishes that both the mother and baby must be protected.”


Before its rejection, the amendment received a variety of responses throughout Mississippi.


Terri Herring, the national director for the Pro-Life America network, said the amendment’s purpose was to give people the opportunity to say that there are better alternatives to abortion and to make national conversation.


“In Mississippi, we have the opportunity to lead the way on a social justice issue,” she said. “We may have been behind on civil rights, but we can be ahead on human rights, and that’s what personhood is really all about.”


“We will establish a culture of life,” said Dr. Freda Bush, a Yes on 26 spokeswoman. “This is a cultural war from the womb to the tomb and we will be back.”


Opponents of the measure said that voting “yes” could have distatrous consequences.


At Jackson State University, a group of college students sported black shirts with, “Get out of her Vagina,” in bright pink letters.


The Mississippi Nurses Association’s House of Delegates also disagreed with the campaign and said the amendment would have multiple consequences if passed.


“Some pregnancies, if carried to term, pose life threatening dangers to the mother,” it said. “Initiative 26 will force women to risk their lives or leave the state to seek medical care.”


“We have named this the law of unintended consequences,” said Paul Seago, a Jackson-based doctor who specializes in gynecologic oncology. “It would negatively impact the delivery of medicine in Mississippi.”


Regardless of the results and anyone’s stance on abortion, I feel that it is imperative that many understand the potential side effects the amendment would have had.


Iniative 26 could have led to a nationwide debate about women’s rights, abortion and the landmark Roe v. Wade case.


In the 1973 case, Justice Potter Stewart said, ““Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life. If it were established that an unborn fetus is a person, you would have an impossible case here.”


The amendment could have changed the course of medical research, caused a dramatic increase in pregnancies, increased health care costs and made women more conscious of their decision to have intimate relationships with their partners.


Though abortion is a controversial and moral issue that many prefer not to discuss – even during gossip hour at the coffee shop – it seems the concept is unlikely to disappear soon.


With other states placing the option on their ballot in 2012, the issue might countinue to garner more attention than expected.


At the end of the day, I am not God. I am not in the position to judge someone else’s life – especially when I am perfectly imperfect and have not walked a mile in their shoes. I can only pray that I am never placed in a situation where I have to contemplate an abortion. It would break my heart.



Naomi Allison is a junior journalism major from West Lake who serves as news editor for The Tech Talk. Email comments to nsa008@latech.edu.


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