Article Comment 

MSU students organize protest of 'Personhood Amendment'


David Miller



Mississippi is the new testing ground for a nationwide initiative that has failed in other states. 


Initiative No. 26, or the "Personhood Amendment," which aims to change the legal definition of the word "person" in the state constitution, will be on the state election ballot in November.  


Personhood USA, which has led similar but unsuccessful movements in Colorado, Alabama and Florida, is a Christian organization that aims to outlaw abortion by defining a person at the moment of fertilization. 


The amendment could have dramatic effects on women's health options and has been blasted by health officials and women's rights groups nationwide. 


Mississippi State University senior political science major and West Point native Shannon Denney hopes to generate support against the initiative at a protest rally on the MSU drill field at 11 a.m. Thursday.  


Since the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled on Sept. 8 to allow the initiative on the November ballot, Denney and co-organizer Victoria Jowers have worked on organizing event, which they hope will run smoothly considering the hot-button issue of abortion. 


Denney, who is pro-abortion rights and an independent voter, said the protest rally will not include a pro-abortion rights agenda. Instead, organizers want to focus on women's rights.  


"We're looking at the far-reaching issues this could create," Denney said. "How this could affect birth control that thins the uterus lining and in vitro fertilization. Not every woman uses birth control as a contraceptive; some use it to regulate hormones. The morning-after pill, which could be used by rape victims would be off the market.  


"It's not so much an abortion issue as it is a women's issue," she added. "And it's not my choice to make these decisions for the rest of the population." 


The vague language of the proposed amendment leaves gray area that would force state legislators to render decisions on specific circumstances involving in vitro fertilization, stem-cell research and options for rape victims.  


"All may be touched by this law, but none are directly addressed," according to the Personhood USA website. 


Denney said passing the law would inundate the legal system with unnecessary appeals as it directly conflicts with the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade, which protects a woman's right to have an abortion. 


"This would cost the state millions of dollars it does not have to fight this," Denney said. "People will fight this. For a state to try and trump the United States is very overreaching." 


Mississippi leads the nation with 64.1 births for every 1,000 teenagers between 15 and 19 years old, according to Mississippi First. Mississippi also leads the nation in teen infection rates for several sexually transmitted diseases. 


The Personhood USA movement in Mississippi gained 130,000 signatures and has the backing of many Republicans. The initiative received a round of applause when discussed at a recent Oktibbeha County Republican social.  


Denney admits the overwhelming disparity between Republican and Democratic voters in the state will be a hurdle. She hopes Republican women can swing the support against it. 


"Honestly, if people can see past the abortion issue, I'm hopeful," Denney said. "It's not about one issue; it's about every issue of women."




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Reader Comments

Article Comment swirlywand commented at 10/12/2011 2:24:00 PM:

I was once president of the Young Dems at Mississippi State and one of the first things I realized was that it was IMPOSSIBLE to be anything other than Pro-life in Mississippi...the press always used terms like PRO-ABORTION. The correct term is PRO-CHOICE. People who support abortion rights are not promoting abortion- but likely oppose the criminalization of an issue that is a private issue between a woman and her family and doctor.

It seems every other year an issue like this comes up and I get bombarded with questions about "what it's really like in Mississippi?"....this personhood amendment is an embarrassment and I find it fascinating that Shannon Denney would be described as Pro-Abortion rights...when she is focusing on the real unintended consequences aspect of this amendment. I'm so proud of the kids at State for focusing on the other aspects of this scary amendment. It would be nice if other supporters could be properly references as Pro-Choice....

but that's for another day....


Article Comment mgbcpa commented at 10/12/2011 3:43:00 PM:

The thing that is wrong with your comment swirly is that you say this is an "issue that is a private issue between a woman and her family and doctor." Actually, I'm surprised you even include the family, but the problem is that you ignore the one member of the family MOST impacted by this "choice"...the child. That is all the personhood movement is about is to recognize the rights of the weakest member involved in the abortion matter. And to extrapalitate that identifying an unborn child as a person is somehow going to affect the overall health and well being of a non-pregnant woman is pure demagoguery.


Article Comment frank commented at 10/12/2011 8:11:00 PM:

"this personhood amendment is an embarrassment"

I am not embarrassed by my faith in God nor the fact that my state has presented this admendment. If this amendment embarrasses you, so be it. The majority of people in this state do not share your shame.


Article Comment colms2332 commented at 10/12/2011 10:09:00 PM:

Please consider voting NO on this proposed bill. It really does cover more than abortion and could affect so many women in MS. It could make types of birth control, like the IUD illegal. It could make invitro fertilization virtually impossible. So many families would not be possible without invitro fertilization. Due to the potential law suits that could be created from this bill, we could loose a lot of our great doctors in our state.
Even if you are pro-life, please do not vote for this bill and wait for a bill to come a long that is only about abortion.


Article Comment mgbcpa commented at 10/13/2011 9:14:00 AM:

Ridiculous claim. The personhood amendment says nothing of birth control. the entire amendment reads:

"The term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof."

The only thing anyone can question is the "functional equivalent" and that clearly applies to fertilized embryos, not "potential" embryos. More demagoguery.


Article Comment kj commented at 10/13/2011 9:15:00 AM:

If the Mississippi legislature wanted to pass a bill outlawing abortions, they could have done so directly. They could have appealed the overturning of such a bill all the way to the Supreme Court if they wanted to make the point that they want to outlaw abortion in all instances, including ectopic pregnancies, rape, and incest.

Instead, they wrote a bill will have much broader effects than just making abortion illegal: women who miscarry will now potentially be subjected to criminal investigation and prosecution; certain types of birth control with medical applications beyond pregnancy prevention will be illegal and their prescription and ingest will criminalize doctors, patients, and pharmacists; insurance companies will be able to strip coverage from women in multiple areas including coverage for care and medication; new legal hurdles for in vitro fertilization will drive up the cost so that it will be out of reach for any Mississippi family of modest means (if services even remain available in Mississippi at all).

No, the Mississippi legislature and Personhood USA know exactly what the implications of their bill are. Writing a bill that did only what they say they want would have been incredibly easy. They did not write that bill. Therefore, they must have written the bill as they did because they have an agenda they wish to achieve that they do not have the courage to acknowledge.


Article Comment colms2332 commented at 10/13/2011 10:40:00 AM:

This is straight from the Yes on 26 website saying that some forms of birth control, like the IUD will be made illegal

"Yes on 26 takes no position on birth control methods, which are contraceptive rather than abortive in their actions."
Reason: We are opposed to those birth control methods which act as abortifacients. These could include forms of the pill which act to prevent implantation of the newly formed human into the lining of the womb; forms of the IUD, which can act the same; and prostaglandin suppository drugs, which act to cause delivery of whatever size baby the uterus contains."


Article Comment mgbcpa commented at 10/13/2011 11:48:00 AM:

Hmmm...good response colms, but don't paint it too broad. It says "forms of the IUD" where you say "THE IUD". Frankly, I didn't know an IUD could work like this, but if it can, I'd want it stopped. In fact I feel terrible now to think I might have contributed to this tragedy through the use of an IUD. Choose to use the acceptable form or some other contraceptive then. It does not portend to stop all birth control, only those that are abortive in nature.


Article Comment mgbcpa commented at 10/13/2011 11:49:00 AM:

Oh, and also, this is only the opinion of the site host. The courts will still be called upon to settle disputes in situations like this.


Article Comment raider commented at 10/13/2011 12:15:00 PM:

Nice job colms2332. Looks like mgbcpa got busted big time trying to lie and spread misrepresentations.

Unfortunately, this bill could very well pass in a state like Mississippi because most people are not going to do any type research on this subject. They will make their decision based on the slick little commercial that the Personhod USA folks are running on TV and radio now.


Article Comment colms2332 commented at 10/13/2011 12:53:00 PM:

Can I please for one moment ask you mgbcpa to imagine yourself a happily married young woman who wants to have children but cannot at the moment due to an underlying medical condition that she is being treated for. The medicine that her condition is being treated with can cause serious birth defects and to prevent this from happening she is using an IUD (the only type of birth control that she can use due to her medical condition) . If this law is passed and the only type of birth control that she can use is made illegal, she is at risk of having a baby with severe life threatening birth defects. Do you want this to happen? Please wait for a bill that is only about abortion.


Article Comment 4christ72 commented at 10/13/2011 3:50:00 PM:

We can assign labels all we want to hide the truth but the issue is whether one is for killing babies or against.


Article Comment mamacita commented at 10/13/2011 4:13:00 PM:

I would respectfully ask that everyone who is interested in this issue go to and watch the movie. It will take about 30 minutes of your time. I would also ask that you go to youtube and look up the video entitled, "Will personhood ban contraceptives?" I think these two small, well-made authoritative videos will speak to some of the issues raised by this article and in the comments. Thank you.


Article Comment ml2010 commented at 10/14/2011 9:36:00 AM:

This group says that a rape victims child always ends up being a blessing to the woman and affects here in no permanent way. These same groups also state that single mothers are an abomination. I wonder how these same people would feel if one of their children were raped and had to explain to their friends at the southern baptist church why they have a black child. So would the government mandate women have surgery to have certain iud's removed? I just wonder why the same conservative christian fundamentalist that believe the government should stay out of their lives also believe that they can tell other people how to live their lives and what they can and cannot do with their bodies. How do you have it both ways? You want government out of your life but you want government to enforce your christian views. What about in the case of a child that for 100% sure will not survive after being born. You would have the child suffer in pain just to live a few hours or days? I can think of nothing more cruel.


Article Comment erisdiscordia commented at 10/14/2011 3:21:00 PM:

Forgive me for spoiling for all of you: the film interviews several morons who somehow don't know who Hitler was, and then likens abortion, a legal medical procedure, to the Holocaust. One thing it does not do is mention that the Nazis were anti-abortion to the point that they gave out medals to mothers who raised large families: "Pure" German women who gave birth to eight or more living babies were eligible for the highest rank of this honor. Abortion was outlawed for German women.

Obviously this argument is incredibly offensive. It's also just plain wrong.


Article Comment mamacita commented at 10/14/2011 5:36:00 PM:

The point of the 180 movie is that Hitler legally killed Jews and other ethnic minorities by declaring them non-human. Just as in America, blacks were legally kept as slaves because the majority of people believed them to be sub-human. Over 53 million people have been killed in this country since 1973 because someone legally declared them to be not human.


Article Comment kj commented at 10/15/2011 8:42:00 PM:

Nobody has been murdered since 1973 because someone legally declared them to be not human. For starters, a fertilized egg is not physically or morally the equivalent of a human being. They are potential human beings, yes, but one could easily point out that God is the most active abortionist around. After all, miscarriages have to be part of his plan. Second, this country has worked hard to strike a reasonable balance between the rights of women and rights of the unborn. This balance is severely threatened by laws like Initiative 26, which seek to make the rights of actual humans secondary to the rights of potential humans. Furthermore, the proponents of this so-called personhood amendment present it in such a way that it would not only subject women to the humiliation of carrying the babies of their rapists but would severely limit their access to birth control and limit their access to life-saving medical care.

Since when our own beliefs an excuse to inflict pain and suffering on others? If you don't want an abortion, DON'T HAVE ONE. If you want to carry a rape or incest baby to term, then figure out a way to get yourself raped or have sex with a family member and carry that baby to term yourself. I'm sure all your friends will admire your courage. Otherwise, kindly let people live their own lives with as little government involvement in other people's uteruses as possible.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 10/17/2011 7:01:00 AM:

Oh here comes the church freaks. It wasn't hardly 400 years ago all of them would tell you the world was flat, but now they've advanced so far mentally they know all about life, when it starts, how it started, and who/what/how it started because they have a book none of them knows the origin of, but they can tell you all about it, and will whether you want to hear it or not.

KJ, you asked "since when our own beliefs an excuse to inflict pain and suffering on others?"

This is what these people have been doing since time began. The Crusades, The Holocaust, genocides...all of it fueled by the kind of ignorance you are hearing from these so called "christians". They are fools and best ignored.


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