More support, opposition to Initiative 26

Published: Nov. 3, 2011 at 3:37 PM CDT|Updated: Feb. 25, 2013 at 1:58 AM CST
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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - The Association of Pro-Life Physicians gathered at the Mississippi Baptist Convention in Jackson, saying Initiative 26 would not protect eggs, it would protect a human embryo, which is an egg after it's fertilized.

The measure also wouldn't outlaw hormonal contraceptives that prevent ovulation. "I think this bill is on the right track. You have to draw a line in the sand somewhere, this is the easiest, most concise place to draw. Fertilization or conception. It's there or it's not," said Dr. Shani Meck, an OB/GYN.

Dr. Meck also wants to spell it out for Governor Haley Barbour, who said this week he hasn't decided how he will vote. "I just want to make it plain and simple. Conception is to fertilization as the Republican party is to the G.O.P," she said.

But a group of faith leaders who oppose the Personhood Amendment say the measure is too vague. "This is not simply an issue of pro-life or pro-choice. This is an issue of badly written legislation," said C. J. Rhodes, Pastor of Mount Helm Baptist Church in Jackson. He was one of several religious leaders who gathered at the Mississippi State Capitol to speak out against the measure.

Since Initiative 26 is a state constitutional amendment, Mississippi lawmakers would fashion future laws out of it. Because of that, no one knows how it might affect in vitro fertilization, or ectopic pregnancies, which pose a danger to mother and child.

"From the moment of fertilization, a human embryo or fetus has the rights of a person, then we can't freeze embryos, store embryos. We cannot do stem cell research," said Rabbi Debra Kassoff.

Supporters of Initiative 26 say embryonic stem cell research would be affected, but not adult stem cell research.

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