On election day next week, Mississippians will not only vote for a new state leader but also the definition of personhood, a story which The Blaze began to cover last month.
Initiative 26, if passed, would redefine a person in the Mississippi constitution as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof."
And while Colorado has tried twice and failed to redefine personhood to be as basic as egg and sperm uniting, some believe Mississippi may have a better chance. As Nature News reports, both men running for governor -- republican and democrat -- and the state attorney general, a democrat, have come out saying they believe human life begins at conception, endorsing Initiative 26. NPR reports initiative supporters casting a wide net to spread the word:
Les Riley has worked on the initiative for years, gathering signatures to get it on the ballot. Now, in northwest Mississippi, he's talking to voters and assembling yard signs that urge the passage of Amendment 26.
"We started out with no money [and] four families in my living room and we ended up with over 2,000 volunteers spread all the way across Mississippi," Riley says.
Part of Riley's strategy is going door to door in small towns like Senatobia.
Even with a slew of support from religious groups and citizens, there is naturally opposition. NPR reports that opponents say the amendment to the constitution wouldn't just redefine personhood and therefore ban abortions and stem cell research, but that it covers more:
They contend the language is so broad and vague it could ban some forms of birth control like IUDs and the morning-after pill. They also say it could affect how doctors treat ectopic pregnancies and throw into question fertility procedures.
The Mississippi State Medical Association won't support the measure, and others directly oppose it, including Doctors Against MS 26. Infertility specialist Randall Hines says theoretically doctors could be charged with murder if an embryo or fetus dies.
"The question would be ... [if] anybody [is] actually going to prosecute you for murder," Hines says. "I would hope not but I think to leave it to a local prosecutor to decide who he's going to prosecute and which issue he's going to prosecute on doesn't make any sense."
NPR goes on to state that proponents of the initiative would expect their legislature to work out the details after it is passed. Nature News reports Jennifer Mason, communications director for Personhood USA, as stating that the initiative would not going to ban in-vitro fertilization or contraception but would just make it illegal to take a pill or conduct a procedure that would kill a person.
Whichever way the Mississippi vote goes, you can bet other states will be taking note. Nature News provides this infographic (below) showing that similar proposals to redefine personhood could make it onto ballots in other states as well.
Watch this local news report detailing the controversial amendment for which voting is now less than a week away: