The state of Mississippi has now provided the answer to an interesting political test: How severe must a proposed piece of pro-life legislation be, for it to fail in the Deep South?
Voters on Tuesday rejected ballot Initiative 26, which would have defined personhood as beginning at fertilization. With 63% of the vote reporting, the ‘No’ position is leading by a margin of 57%-43%, and has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.
The proposal, initiated through petitions by pro-life activists, would have outlawed not only abortion but many forms of birth control that can prevent the uterine implantation of a fertilized egg.
The proposal obviously conflicted with the right to an abortion as decided in the Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade, and if passed could have set up a potential Supreme Court battle to overturn Roe. It was opposed by the state Medical Association and Nurses Association.
However, even in this very conservative and religious state, the ‘No’ campaign successfully mobilized against it by explaining to voters what such a law would mean if actually put into practice. For example, the proposal made no exceptions for abortion in the sensitive situations of rape or incest.
And what was more, such a law would have forbidden medically necessary abortions even in cases where a fetus could not be viable, and where a woman’s life would be at risk. The ‘No’ campaign successfully highlighted the example of an ectopic pregnancy, a condition where an embryo implants in the fallopian tubes rather than the uterus — resulting in a pregnancy that will not only fail to develop into a viable baby, but if left untreated will result in the woman’s death.