Mississippi’s “fetal personhood” amendment has been endorsed by every major candidate for governor and attorney general — but the state’s current governor, Haley Barbour, just might vote against it.
Speaking with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Barbour said that, although he is opposed to abortion, he has doubts about supporting such an extreme bill.
“I believe life begins at conception,” said Barbour. “Unfortunately, this personhood amendment doesn’t say that. It says life begins at fertilization, or cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof. That ambiguity is striking a lot of pro-life people here as concerning. And I’m talking about people that are very, outspokenly pro-life.”
When asked how he plans to vote for Amendment 26, Barbour said he isn’t yet sure. “If you had asked me when this was first proposed, I would have said … I believe that life begins at conception, and therefore I would be for it,” he said. “I am concerned about some of the ramifications on in vitro fertilization, ectopic pregnancies where pregnancies outside the uterus and the fallopian tubes. That concerns me, I have to just say it.”
Johnny DuPree, who is currently in the running for governor in the state, has also expressed doubts about the amendment, but still says he plans to support it. According to his website, DuPree has “concerns about some of the ramifications, such as on in-vitro fertilization and birth control,” but he will ultimately support the amendment “because he believes life begins at conception.”
The state’s Amendment 26 would define a human being from the moment of conception — a problem, say some, for those looking to undergo in vitro fertilization (in which cases freezing an embryo could potentially be deemed “child abuse”) or those on the birth control pill. Supporters of the personhood amendment say they only want to ban abortion; the state currently has only one abortion facility.
The support for personhood has been much stronger in Mississippi than in other states, like Florida, where a personhood initiative has yet to gain popular or legislative support. Many anti-abortion organizations, like National Right to Life, find the personhood movement to be problematic. The passage of such a bill, they argue, would lead to so many lawsuits that it could end up strengthening, rather than weakening, Roe v. Wade.
Mississippians will vote on the personhood amendment on Nov. 8.