Mississippi’s personhood amendment may pass later today. Public Policy Polling found that, hours before todays vote, 45 percent of voters supported the amendment, while 44 percent opposed. The amendment, or Initiative #26 , asks: Should the term person be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof? If the ballot passes, it will be the first time an embryo is recognized as a human person by law, making Mississippi the first state to directly challenge Roe v. Wade.
Mississippi lawmakers have acknowledged that the immediate consequences, should the amendment pass, will be seen in expensive court battles and numerous lawsuits. But the hope of Les Riley, leader of the Mississippi personhood movement, is that one of these lawsuits will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court. While opponents say the initiative is nothing more than a waste of state money and resources, having no chance of standing, Riley remains hopeful. Convinced that the success of Roe v. Wade was due in large part to what was a lack of unity among scientists concerning the beginning of human life, he’s convinced things are different now: We think that God has already told us when life begins, and science has confirmed it, and the court has just not dealt with it.
The proposal, even for pro-lifers, isnt perfect. In fact, the language used is dreadfully vague, as Republican Governor Haley Barbour told MSNBC :
I believe life begins at conception. Unfortunately, this personhood amendment doesnt 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 Im talking about people that are very outspokenly pro-life.
Yet, for all its problematic features, the initiative has brought considerable attention to pro-life concerns and has prompted increased efforts in both scientific and legal communities to arrive at a more unified, definitive answer to the question of the beginning of human life. This may be worth any expense Mississippi may pay for the court battles to come.