The Personhood Mississippi logo (Pic via Facebook)

Mississippians will decide today whether or not to approve a so-called “fetal personhood” amendment — a deeply divisive measure that would define life as beginning at the moment of conception.

A new poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, found that support for Amendment 26 stood at 45 percent, while opposition was at 44 percent.

Only hours before the vote, groups continued to come out to either support or oppose the amendment.

Should the measure pass, Mississippi would be the first state to grant an embryo legal rights. With no precedent, it’s unclear exactly what would be affected. Supporters argue they only want to ban abortion (which is already difficult to obtain in Mississippi — the state has only one abortion clinic), but critics say that the bill would also likely affect in vitro fertilization procedures, intra-uterine devices and the birth control pill.

In a release sent out last night, Students for Life touted their firm support of the bill, alongside a list of what they say are “the facts” about its passage. Arguing that “hormonal contraception will not be banned if the Amendment passes,” the group says that only drugs like emergency contraceptives and IUDs would be affected.

Students for Life does, however, note that in vitro fertilization procedures would be impacted by the passage of Amendment 26. “If this amendment passes, it is likely that a majority of IVF practices will be banned,” reads the Students for Life release. “Currently, many IVF practitioners take multiple eggs from a mother, create multiple embryos with the father’s sperm, and then implant 2-3 back into the mother. In the process, they end up freezing unused embryos and ‘discarding’ – throwing away – those embryos deemed to have ‘less than desirable’ qualities deemed by the parents, to include down syndrome, cystic fibrosis and other genetic diseases, or simply for being female.”

Though Students for Life writes that “all pro-lifers are for Personhood,” many anti-abortion organizations adamantly oppose personhood amendments. Groups like National Right to Life argue that, because the bill is so extreme, it will be met with countless lawsuits, all of which could end up strengthening Roe v. Wade in the long run.

Also opposed to the amendment are a growing number of obstetricians and gynecologists, who say passage of the bill could prove medically problematic for women. Yesterday, the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health voiced their opposition to Amendment 26, which they said would take “safe, vital medical care away from women.”

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also sent out a release, urging voters to oppose the amendment, which would have “wide-reaching implications that will impact access to women’s health, including treatment for cancer, infertility treatment, birth control options, and pregnancy termination.”

Personhood USA has worked hard to sway Mississippi voters. Just a day before the big vote, Personhood USA emailed 600,000 voters in the state a link to the controversial film 180, which compares American abortion to the Nazi Holocaust.

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