(Photo: Reuters/Jim Young)
A broad based group of pro-life leaders and organizations, who formed a coalition to help pass the Personhood Amendment, says it’s gaining significant political traction to give constitutional rights to zygotes, the earliest stages of the embryo.
Mississippi pro-life groups have rallied for more than two years for the passage of a ballot measure this November that would redefine the word "person" in the state constitution to include undeveloped embryos.
Christian medical groups are now weighing in to endorse the amendments even though some medical professionals raise concerns that the amendment could have negative implications for women, such as banning certain kinds of birth control or in vitro fertilization.
Endorsements in favor of the Mississippi Personhood Amendment came in this week from the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.
“The Christian Medical and Dental Associations recognize fertilization or ‘the functional equivalent thereof.’ Its purpose is to protect life, regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction,” said a statement issued by the organization this week.
The association said that it “supports Personhood based on undeniable scientific and medical evidence as well as on clear recognition that God is the creator of life.”
“Our stand for Personhood, in solidarity with mothers, fathers, and pre-born children, provides a beacon to guide other medical groups seeking to find their voices on this crucial issue,” said Robert P.N. Shearin, a retired thoracic surgeon in Mississippi.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that Measure No. 26, the Personhood Amendment, did not violate the state constitutional rules governing citizen initiatives.
The court thus rejected a challenge by the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights to keep the Personhood Amendment off the ballot, claiming that it was an improper attempt to modify the Bill of Rights.
A group called “Yes on 26” has collected more than 130,000 signatures to have abortion outlawed in the state of Mississippi. Opponents have filed an injunction to get it removed without success.
Cal Zastrow, a pro-life advocate and former leader at Personhood USA, said, “We must create enabling legislation to criminalize surgical and chemical abortion – every drug, every surgery designed to murder.”
Mississippi’s top attorney has also endorsed the Mississippi Personhood Amendment and announced his intention to defend the measure in court.
“My position on pro-life issues [has] always been clear. From a personal standpoint, I have always honored the sanctity of life at every stage,” said Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.
“I have defended every pro-life bill that has been adopted by the Mississippi Legislature. I have assisted our lawmakers with pro-life legislation and will continue to do so. I support the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, and if adopted, will defend it if challenged.”
Hood’s endorsement is another in a long list of prominent political supporters, including GOP gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Governor Phil Bryant, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, U.S. Representatives Alan Nunnelee, Greg Harper, and Steven Palazzo.
“This is the most pro-life amendment Mississippi has ever seen,” said Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA. “Science and reason tell us that all human beings are people, and all people have the right to live. We know that Mississippi voters agree that unborn children have human rights, so we expect victory in November.”
Mississippians are set to vote on the measure on Nov. 8. Amendment 26 will define the terms “person” and “persons” as used in the Mississippi Constitution to “include every human being from the moment of fertilization.”