The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Personhood" amendment threatens birth control options

This past Tuesday, which was Election Day in the United States, a “personhood” amendment to Mississippi’s state constitution was put to the vote.  This amendment, had it passed, would have not only outlawed abortion but also made many forms of birth control and reproductive assistance illegal.

The concept behind this amendment was that life begins at the moment a sperm cell embeds in an egg – and so this law would have banned any birth control method that can possibly inhibit a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and continuing to develop.  This would have made the morning-after pill, hormonal birth control pills, and intrauterine devices illegal, because all of these birth control methods rely in part on preventing zygotes from remaining in the uterus.  This law also had the potential to prohibit in-vitro fertilization, since extra fertilized eggs produced in this process are sometimes discarded.

Thankfully, Mississippi voters rejected this amendment, but the fact that it was even submitted as legislation is disturbing.  This law was medically unsound because a woman is not considered pregnant until a zygote implants on the uterine wall – in fact, home pregnancy tests won’t register as positive until this happens.  But beyond defying science, this law would also have put a huge dent in the separation of church and state that is enshrined in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  The personhood amendment was sponsored by Personhood USA, an advocacy group that aims to “serve Jesus” by pushing legislation that defines life as beginning at fertilization.  This organization is trying to push its religious doctrine into United States law, which is a clear violation of our national Constitution.

What makes this law even more ironic is that birth control is one of the best solutions for reducing the abortion rate.  Preventing conception from taking place at all leads to less unwanted pregnancies, which in turn means that fewer women will seek abortions.  Also, as I’ve previously written here, Mississippi spends an extraordinary amount of money each year to deal with the consequences of unplanned teenage pregnancies.  Birth control is the logical choice to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and Mississippians weren’t fooled by Personhood USA’s campaign.  If one of the most conservative states can reject laws like this, maybe there’s hope for the future of reproductive freedom.

-Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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