ABBY GRACE: Initiative 26 should be open for high school discussion

By Abby Grace

Freedom of the press is of the utmost importance. When faced with a decision from the Tupelo High School principal stating that my article “Initiative 26: Why You Should Be Scared” would not be printed in the student newspaper, I felt that a serious oversight occurred. His justification for this decision was that the topic of the article was too mature for the student body.
Pew Center’s most recent (2006) breakdown on voter turnout showed that only 25 percent of people in Mississippi ages 18-29 voted. In a state where teen pregnancy is the highest in the nation, I believe that students should be educated about the issues citizens in our state face when they enter the poll booth.
Although the majority of students are not old enough to vote, they are still old enough to have a voice and an opinion. I truly believe that treating students like they aren’t capable of understanding the issues is one cause of Mississippi’s current state. It is only through discussing issues that students, who are still young and forming their opinions about the world, can proceed confidently with the knowledge they need to be successful, whatever their opinions turn out to be.
On Nov. 8, Mississippi voters will vote on whether or not to pass Initiative 26.
While, on the surface, this debate appears to be strictly pro-life/pro-choice, it actually raises several concerns. In instances of rape, incest, or ectopic pregnancy, a doctor would still not be allowed to perform an abortion. Because this would cause increased government involvement in medical decisions and the judgment of a well-intending physician could easily be brought into question, the Mississippi Medical Association and Mississippi Nurses Association oppose this initiative. Despite any one doctor’s personal belief, the overarching institution feels that 26 does pose a significant risk.
Furthermore, Initiative 26 has a very real potential to outlaw in-vitro fertilization. IVF, unfortunately, only has a 25-30 percent success rate. This means that around 75 percent of embryos harvested are never implanted or are implanted unsuccessfully. Under Initiative 26, this embryo would be considered a person, and the doctor and mother could theoretically be charged with murder.
Initiative 26 makes it possible that common forms of birth control will be outlawed. I must say to my fellow Mississippians that this might be the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Is it logical to support unplanned children on the state-funded Medicaid program for 18 years instead of providing their parents with a much wanted $15 package of birth control pills?
Many people on the “yes” side insist that birth control would not be affected by 26. What those people must not know is that most birth control pills not only prevent ovulation, but thin the wall of the uterus. This makes it impossible for an egg to implant if it does happen to release from the ovary. Under 26, a fertilized “person” could be prevented from implanting in the womb and growing to be an actual person, effectively making birth control illegal.
Furthermore, if passed, this Initiative will take a significant toll on Mississippi’s economy. It is almost certain that Initiative 26 will be challenged in a court of law, and Mississippi taxpayers will be footing the bill. Personhood USA’s website even claims that this amendment is the modern challenge to Roe v. Wade. To be frank, this battle will not be cheap, and considering the Supreme Court’s continual support of its previous decision, success is not likely.
Today, I am not saying that the pro-life cause is wrong; I am saying that passing Initiative 26 would limit women’s and families’ rights. This debate is much more complicated than pro-life/pro-choice. It extends to the rights of women to use birth control, and families’ rights to go to a fertility treatment center and have a baby that they will love and take care of. Furthermore, no one but the judicial system has the right to dictate what Initiative 26 will or will not do. So, before making a decision, please look at the whole picture. Just because you are pro-life does not mean you should be in support of Initiative 26.
Abby Grace is a senior at Tupelo High School and a staff writer for the Hi-Times school newspaper. The full text of the article she submitted but that was not published in the Hi-Times can be found at by clicking on ABBY GRACE: Initiative 26: Why You Should be Scared headline on opinion page.

Click here for article that was not published in Hi-Times.

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