NEWS BRIEF: Mississippi Voters Get One Right, One Wrong

Yesterday, voters in Mississippi overwhelmingly rejected a personhood amendment that would have defined fertilized eggs as people and given them the full legal rights and protections of real humans. Polling shows that 55 percent of voters voted against the initiative, which would have:

  • potentially outlawed birth control pills, IUDs, emergency contraception and other forms of birth control
  • opened the door for the state to investigate women for involuntary manslaughter when they have miscarriages
  • of course, banned abortion–even in cases of rape, incest, and life-threatening illness.

A victory for personhood in Mississippi would have given a big boost to its supporters in at least eight states considering such measures, including Alabama, Wis consin, Ohio, Florida, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and California. Proponents claim petitions are active in all 50 states. Though most mainstream anti-abortion groups have been hesitant to support personhood in the past, a victory in just one state could have made it trendy. Three bills with language based on the Mississippi amendment have already been introduced in Congress–two in the House and one in the Senate–one of which has 91 co-sponsors.

I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear from the personhood movement, but this is a victory for everyone who believes in the value of women’s lives and their ability to make their own reproductive choices, and it’s a clear sign that educating voters works.

Unfortunately, 62 percent of voters voted for an ID initiative requiring voters to show photo IDs with their current address at the polls, making them the 31st state to do so. While this may sound like a reasonable idea, it has the effect of turning away legitimate voters. Most affected will be people of color, the elderly, the poor and students. As Loretta Ross says,

[When] people are kept from voting–because of the lack of government ID or missing birth certificates–then Mississippi returns to the sixties when voter denials based on race and gender were common and mocked our democracy.

Students across the state and black women’s groups mobilized to defeat both initiative No 26 (personhood) and 27 (voter IDs). However, there was a gap in resources–No on 26 had greater funding and support from both state and national groups than No on 27.

Photo from Flickr user Muffet under Creative Commons 2.0.

Comments

  1. Actually, this IS a good idea. You should have an ID and obtaining your birth certificate is not that difficult. Unless, of course, you’re not born in this country which is most likely the bottom line here. US citizens should have no problem with having their info on them. My ID is always on me. No reason why it shouldn’t be.

  2. So what really makes a person a real person with full rights in Mississippi is government issued photo ID. I’m curious, are these 31 states that are requiring ID with current address in order to vote now required to issue the ID cards to each free of charge upon their registration to vote, or do the have to PAY for the right?

  3. Feminist Metalhead says:

    *sigh of relief* this is a good thing to hear.

  4. Speaking from Mississippi, it was very difficult having all these initiatives on the ballot at once. The fight against personhood was so passionate that the fight against voter ID often got left behind or tacked on as an afterthought. The group Hell No on Mississippi 26 and 27 worked tirelessly, but I think it was very difficult to keep focus on both all the time. And let’s just say it, most of us fighting against 26 were people who DO have ID, so while we understood all the problems with the Voter ID initiative, the personhood proposal struck much closer to home and was a much more terrifying prospect (for us, personally, at least). It’s not fair, and I hate that 27 passed, but I just think these may be some of the reasons it happened.

  5. Kim O'brien says:

    In Cuba those who guard the ballot box are children below the voting age of sixteen. In the US it’s the cops dressed for street patrol with side arms. In Cuba your neigbors nominate candidates for office with out reguard to Party status. In the US Democratic or Republican Party Status automaticly confirms ballot status in most jurisdictions. Independent or Third Parties very often require large and burdensome collections of signatures which discourages all but the most determined. In Cuba abortion and birth control are rights that came with and are guarenteed by the revolution. They are rights that are not up for discussion at the next party convention.

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