Lawsuit filed against state targets "Personhood" initiative

Published: Jul. 15, 2010 at 11:07 PM CDT|Updated: Feb. 18, 2013 at 8:19 PM CST
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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The controversial issue that would define "human rights" at the moment of conception, known as "personhood," is being challenged.

On behalf of two Lafayette County residents, Jackson Attorney Robert McDuff filed this lawsuit against the state of Mississippi.

In a statement McDuff said:

"This lawsuit is brought to preserve Mississippi's Bill of Rights.  This Initiative specifically attempts to modify the Mississippi Bill of Rights by changing the word "person" to include a fertilized egg.  Like the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution, the Mississippi constitution states that 'the initiative process shall not be used...for the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the bill of rights of this constitution.'"

McDuff said Thursday doctors performing certain types of fertility treatments could be in jeopardy within their practices, and some might fear being sued.

The leader of the Personhood movement, Les Riley, among others set out to receive enough signatures to get this measure on the 2011 ballot.

Several months ago, the Secretary of State's office announced that Mississippians would in fact have the right to vote on this measure next year; however, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood have spoken in opposition to this measure saying it is "unconstitutional".

Pro-Life Mississippi President Dr. Beverly McMillin said that every Mississippian, whether they agree or not, should have the right to vote.

"One hundred and forty-three thousand Mississippi voters are being challenged...saying that they don't have the right to vote on this.  We do," said McMillin.

In addition, a statement by Riley on Personhood's web site said:

"This is clearly a preposterous lawsuit, intended to interfere with Mississippi citizens' right to vote, and to protect Planned Parenthood's abortion cash cow.  Planned Parenthood and the ACLU are seeking to protect Planned Parenthood's one-billion-dollar-a-year profit, while Mississippi voters are seeking to protect innocent life."

Dr. McMillin said that if Personhood gets the green light, then the state's only abortion clinic will likely shut down.

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