Prop 26, the Personhood Movement, and Why You Should Care
November 8th is approaching quickly and the threat of Mississippi’s Proposition 26 is looming. Proposition 26 intends to grant an egg all the legal rights afforded to a person. This makes absolutely no sense, given that an egg does not even have the correct number of chromosomes to be considered a person. Proposition 26 is a direct challenge to abortion rights and Roe v. Wade, as well as hormonal birth control, and other far-reaching consequences.
So I’ve been spending some nights phone banking with Mississippi for Healthy Families, the Vote No on 26 Campaign. I have been calling random Mississippians halfway across the nation, interrupting the dinners of some of the most conservative people in this country to talk about women’s rights. It is exactly as exhausting as you can imagine. Actually, it’s probably more exhausting that you are imagining. One annoyed Mississippian asked my fellow phone banker, “what are you, some kind of Jewish lesbian?” I talked to maybe 50 voters, and only three intended to vote against the Proposition. The other seemed so blinded by the allure of banning abortion to even consider the far-reaching consequences of the proposition.
See, the ethics behind Proposition 26 is entrenched in the personhood movement – the push to define life at conception, and reframe the perception of dialogue on abortion rights to grant the fetus the rights of a person. This personhood movement doesn’t, as it claims to, grant equal rights for everyone. Instead, it creates unconstitutional restrictions in order to grant special legislation for a zygote.
The language of Proposition 26 is so convoluted – while banning abortion; it would also definitely ban emergency contraception. The vague wording of the proposition could effectively prohibit hormonal birth control (the pill and IUDs) and even in vitro fertilization. It would also ban medical termination of ectopic pregnancies or other issues that would endanger the mother. The bill implies that “life” begins even before the embryo is implanted in the uterus (fertilization). There has also been speculation that miscarriages would be treated as criminal investigations.
The governor of Mississippi, republican Haley Barbour recently expressed concerns about the extreme wording of the proposition. A shocking amount of sense from this former presidential hopeful. However, due to public outcry, he has since recanted his statement.
Here’s the thing: Roe v. Wade exists. It happened. Women have the constitutional right to terminate their pregnancy. Not merely in the cases of rape, incest, or ectopic pregnancies but also in the case of NOT WANTING TO BE PREGNANT ANY MORE. Proposition 26 is straight up unconstitutional. Reproductive rights are rights, and rights shouldn’t be voted on. The obsession with controlling female bodies is a divisionary tactic from the real issues that plague this nation right now.
You guys, I’m only an armchair political scientist, but this is definitely going to pass. And then it will be swiftly taken to court. A legal battle won’t be a set-back for the personhood movement – it is the end game. The ultimate goal for Proposition 26 is to bring it all the way to the Supreme Court and directly challenge Roe v. Wade. This goes beyond Mississippi. This goes beyond Florida (where the personhood movement is gaining steam). This is a national attack on human rights.