The citizens of the State of Mississippi have a real opportunity to create a paradigm shift in the dynamics of the abortion debate when they vote next Tuesday on Amendment 26. Rather than focusing on outlawing abortion, maybe the public conversation could become centered on using education about human sexuality and physiology to prevent abortion rather than blocking individual rights to achieve the goals of the conservative movement. This could be a chance for Mississippi to show the entire country that they're truly concerned about healthcare for the women in their state.
Amendment 26, if passed, would be a chaotic attempt to grant “Personhood” to cellular changes that start at the point of fertilization. Not only is this amendment poorly written and subject to a multitude of interpretations, it would be one more step in the right-wing march toward forcing every individual to accept conservative religious beliefs as the governing philosophy in a country more diverse and more free than any other country in the world.
Mississippi, with its appalling education, employment and healthcare rankings, has a choice now to either take a step toward intelligent debate or shackle itself further with this ridiculous amendment. Not only would Amendment 26 cause immediate ambiguity in laws related to birth control, safe healthcare access, and even manslaughter, it’s an attempt to legislate behavior by shoving conservativism down the throat of every woman in the state.
Rather than fighting over whether or not Personhood begins at fertilization, or at conception, the real focus should be on education. How much effort is currently made in the education system to ensure that children in Mississippi, the future parents, workers and voters in the state, understand human anatomy and physiology? How much access do young women really have in Mississippi to the reproductive and contraceptive options every adult woman is entitled to have? Based on the on-going efforts throughout the South to limit access to Planned Parenthood and safe abortion procedures, I’m guessing that it’s not very much. Mississippi pro-lifers like to brag about shutting down abortion clinics. Apparently, it doesn’t matter that safe abortions prevent death and disease every day in this country.
So next Tuesday, the citizens of Mississippi have a great opportunity to vote against Amendment 26 and start a more intelligent discussion about providing healthcare to the women in their state. If Mississippi starts promoting education and undertaking a concerted effort to give people the information they need to make their own decisions about birth control and reproduction, we might all be amazed by how many fewer abortions are sought.
Do yourself a favor, Mississippi, and show the rest of the country that you aren’t really as backwards, foolish and uninformed as this proposed amendment makes you appear to be.