Mississippi Decides Today: Is Fertilized Egg a Person?

Polls show voters are split
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 8, 2011 4:17 AM CST
Mississippi Split on Personhood Vote
"Personhood" supporters gather at a prayer rally at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss. earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Mississippi voters are being asked to decide today whether a fertilized egg should be considered a person under the state constitution—and polls show a near-even split on the question. If it passes, Initiative 26 will be the first "personhood" law in the nation. The initiative is designed to outlaw all abortions in the state—including in cases of rape and incest—but legal and medical experts believe it may also result in the banning of some forms of birth control and fertility treatments, the Huffington Post reports.

The state's "personhood" debate has even divided conservatives, Christians, and, in Tupelo, two obstetrician-gynecologists who are partners in a medical practice and who both consider themselves anti-abortion, CBS finds. One of the doctors fears that he will fall on the wrong side of the law if he terminates pregnancies that will never result in a live birth, like ectopic pregnancies, while his partner believes existing laws will protect physicians who terminate pregnancies to save the mother's life. Haley Barbour, the state's Republican governor, expressed reservations about the initiative but has already cast his absentee ballot in favor. (More Mississippi stories.)

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