Amendment 26 will pass, but issue not clear as seems

Published 11:15 pm Saturday, October 15, 2011

By The (McComb) Enterprise-Journal:

It’s usually risky to make election predictions, but a very safe bet is to guess that the referendum on Amendment 26, also known as the personhood amendment, easily will be approved by voters on Nov. 8.

A conservative state like Mississippi is the perfect place to ask the public to approve a measure that states a fetus is entitled to all rights and protections under the law from the moment of fertilization.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The amendment to the state Constitution is a direct challenge to court rulings such as Roe vs. Wade, which has made abortion legal for nearly four decades. Approval of Amendment 26 will guarantee a court fight, and advocates believe there is a good chance that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe.

Abortion-rights advocates, including Planned Parenthood, lost two court challenges to keep Amendment 26 off the November ballot. However, more notable opposition to the amendment rose — from prominent medical groups.

The Mississippi Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said its executive committee unanimously agreed that voter approval of Amendment 26 would be a bad decision for the state.

“It has numerous unintended consequences that will affect the care of our patients,” the group said in a press release.

Another group of physicians, Mississippi Doctors Against (hash)26, has members from various medical specialties including obstetrics and gynecology, and oncology. That group’s press statement said:

“This initiative is bad for the practice of medicine, bad for women’s health and bad for Mississippi families. It will inappropriately regulate and criminalize the practice of medicine. It will put lawyers and politicians in between families and their doctors and give unprecedented government control to historically private family health decisions.”

To be sure, Amendment 26 has its medical supporters. They say approval will not stop practices like in vitro fertilization for couples who have difficulty conceiving, it will not ban use of birth-control methods like the pill, and it will not stop appropriate treatment for women with difficult, life-threatening pregnancies.

The debate over Amendment 26 in the medical community almost certainly will not affect the outcome of the Nov. 8 referendum. It’s going to be approved. …

The idea of banning or strictly limiting abortion is generally good. However, as the doctors’ concerns indicate, the issue simply is not as black-and-white as it seems.