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The ‘Personhood’ Debate Heats Up

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 31 Oct 2011 07:07pm | comments
Ashley Sigrest

Supporters and opponents of Amendment 26, known as the personhood amendment, are increasing their campaign efforts in the last few days before the Mississippi general election.  MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports supporters of 26 are responding to some of their toughest critics about what the passage of the personhood amendment could mean for the state.

"Did my rapist create the life inside of me? no. God almighty created that life,"

31-year old Ashley Sigrest took the podium at a press conference at the capitol in Jackson yesterday telling her story of becoming pregnant after she was raped at 17...she had an abortion and says that event has led her to support amendment 26 which would ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest.

"My rapist didn't kill me; I am standing here alive right now. I have three beautiful children at home and a husband that loves me. But i choose to kill my child out of shame, out of guilt, out of fear. Rape, is no excuse for abortion," Sigrest said.

Brad Prewitt, the executive director of the yes on 26 campaign, says concerns that the amendment could outlaw certain types of birth control are scare tactics, designed to muddy the waters on what he considers a simple issue.

"One of the scare tactics that have been raised is the use of birth control, the pill, contraception. And we have stated unequivocally all along that if you are attempting to prevent a pregnancy there is no problem with defining the personhood of the unborn. But if you are trying to end a pregnancy, that is another story," Prewitt said.

However, there is disagreement in the legal and medical establishment if that would be the case.

Jackson Gynecologist Randy Hines is part of a group of doctors and nurses that have come out against amendment 26, specifically citing the potential that it could ban common birth control and fertility treatments.

"I think there are some forms of birth control that with passage of this amendment would likely be illegal, thinks like the IUD and morning after pill. So birth control is the perfect option of how complicated life will get after 26, if we allow it to be passed," Hines said.

The state medical association and the state nurses association have both come out in opposition to the amendment, over worries of government interference in the doctor-patient relationship.

Initiative 26 and two other constitutional amendments are part of the November eighth general election ballot.



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