A Mississippi court has ruled that voters in the southern state should have a chance to consider whether to approve a personhood amendment that would have the effect of banning abortions.
Circuit Court Judge Malcolm Harrison issued a decision today saying the amendment can be placed before voters “and the constitution recognizes the right of citizens to amend their constitution.”
“The initiative has received more than the required amount of signatures to be placed on the ballot,” he added.
The case is expected to be appealed to the state Supreme Court by those who say the amendment can’t be used to change the Bill of Rights, which bringers of the lawsuit said it would do.
While backers of the amendment in other states either failed to secure enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot or lost court ballots to move it to the ballot, a judge certified that backers of the Mississippi personhood amendment were able to qualify it for 2011.
Rep. Alex Monsour, a Vicksburg Republican who is one of the sponsors of the amendment, told the Clarion ledger newspaper: “We want to protect our citizens from un-Constitutional mandates from the federal government.”
But House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland, a Democrat, will oppose the measure as will abortion advocates.
“I hope it falls flat on its face,” he said.
Les Riley, sponsor of the Mississippi Personhood Amendment says abortion backers oppose the amendment because they don’t want to recognize the humanity of the unborn.
“It has always been the practice of those who want to deny rights to others to use terminology to dehumanize them. There is no such thing as a fertilized egg, as the new life they are referring to is no longer an egg but a person with his or her own DNA,” he said.
A third group of Mississippi pro-life groups and residents are those pro-life advocates who have concerns about the ballot measure.
The pro-life community in Mississippi and nationwide continues to be split on the strategy behind the personhood amendment, even though the strongly support personhood for the unborn.
Some pro-life groups oppose the amendment because they say it will head to the Supreme Court, which will strike it down and add to the pro-Roe v. Wade case law upholding unlimited abortions. Instead, they say a better strategy is supporting pro-life Senate candidates and replacing pro-abortion President Barack Obama — paving the way for new Supreme Court justices who could overturn Roe or uphold such an amendment.
The Catholic bishops have not endorsed these kinds of measures and groups like National Right to Life, Eagle Forum and Americans United for Life have concerns about it as well on strategic and legal grounds. Other pro-life groups have endorsed the personhood amendment but have not spent time or money supporting the amendment because of the same fears.