In this month’s general election, the state of Mississippi introduced one of the most controversial anti-abortion amendments to date. In amendment H.R. 212, Mississippi asked voters to decide if personhood begins at the point of conception – when a sperm meets an egg. The change in the state constitution would read: “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof,” making what we consider a human being very specific in nature. The amendment failed at the ballot, but since then several states have considered proposing similar measures during next year’s crucial election.
Since Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973, proponents and opponents of abortion have argued this very thing: what is considered a human being? Is it at the time of conception or after the first trimester of a woman’s pregnancy and beyond? A change in the law would deny a woman’s ability to get an abortion in the case of rape, incest, or a pregnancy in which the woman’s life is in danger, i.e. ectopic pregnancy. Under this law, certain contraceptives would be considered illegal including IUD’s, Plan B (the morning after pill), some oral contraceptives and in vitro fertilization would be restricted. Most frightening about the amendment is that a woman could be charged with a crime for a miscarried baby. Supporters of the bill note that the circumstances surrounding the miscarriage could determine whether a woman can be charged with a crime.
Women (and even men who are seemingly the most vocal proponents of the change) from both sides of the debate have vocalized their opinion about whose right it is to determine what a woman does with her body. With Georgia, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, and California proposing to have it on the ballot in 2012, one must ask if Mississippi’s failure to pass the law will have an adverse affect on future attempts across the country. The language presented in Mississippi’s bill can have various interpretations, which is cause for greater concern considering every person’s understanding of a word or phrase may vary. Slate.com presents a thorough breakdown of what Mississippi’s failed change proposed and gives you insight on how other states may mimic the same regulatory amendments on future ballots.
What say you? Do you think this type of amendment is fair to women? Sound off in the comment section below!