By Bobby Harrison | NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Supporters of the personhood initiative, which defines life as beginning at fertilization, said Monday that opposition to the proposal is coming from out-of-state groups such as Planned Parenthood.
The citizen-sponsored initiative is scheduled to be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
In recent days, a group called Mississippians for Healthy Families has run television ads in opposition to the proposal. At a news conference at the state Capitol, Tim Wildmon, president of the Tupelo-based American Family Association and American Family Radio, said Mississippians for Healthy Families is in reality a front for Planned Parenthood, a national organization that provides women’s preventive health care and reproductive services, including abortions.
When asked about opposition to the initiative from the board of directors of the Mississippi State Medical Association and the state Nurses Association, Brad Prewitt, a Tupelo attorney and executive director of YESon26, said they were “sucked in by scare tactics.”
At the news conference, a video was played where a caller asked unidentified people who were said to work for various organizations such as Planned Parenthood, hospitals and the state Health Department, whether passage of the initiative would ban birth control. The unidentified people said it would not.
Various physicians’ groups have contended it would ban some types of birth control, such as IUDs. The groups also say the proposal would inhibit doctors from providing certain medical care that could prevent the life of a pregnant woman from being put in jeopardy.
But people at Monday’s news conference said a doctor should strive to protect both the unborn and the mother but would not be prosecuted for good medical practices.
Anne Reed of Tupelo, a counselor and Bible study leader, said the opponents of the initiative were trying to make a simple issue complicated when in reality it was a choice of “fighting for an innocent child in the womb” or “for an abortionist.”
U.S. Rep. Greg Harper, a Brandon Republican, conceded that the initiative, if passed by voters, would not immediately outlaw abortions in Mississippi because of past court decisions, “but may be the vehicle for the U.S. Supreme Court to look again at this.”