Legal Mayhem Surround New Proposition

Veronica Maciel

Recently in Mississippi, a proposition was written and is up for voting. It declares that a fertilized egg would be considered a person. No one, including those who wrote the law, knows how it would be enforced. The question voters face at the polls is, “Should an undeveloped embryo have the same rights as a person?”  One problem with this new law is that the word “person” appears in the Mississippi Constitution over 9,000 times. Law makers and enforcers would then have to determine a way to apply all things in the Constitution to the developing embryos.

The law would completely ban abortion in the state. Any type of contraception would be illegal, emergency or regular, because it could damage the likelihood of the embryo attaching to the uterine walls. If a woman has a miscarriage because she did not know she was pregnant a legal figure may have the right to take the woman to court under this new law. It may even question the possibility of in vitro fertilization.

This new law is being called the “personhood” amendment. There aren’t just physical implications because of it. Now many legal things are coming into question. As stated by the Huffington Post, “If every fetus is considered a person, does this affect voter districting? Would a woman who is three weeks pregnant be able to claim her fetus as a dependent on federal tax forms, or in claims for government assistance? If a woman who doesn’t know she’s pregnant engages in some negligent activity that leads to a miscarriage, could someone prosecute her on behalf of the embryo?” All these questions and more are what lawmakers would have to debate on if the proposition is passed.

Those questions are only what may have to be answered if Prop. 26 is passed. There were already massive amounts of debating going on trying to rally up voters for and against it. Michele Alexandre, a civil rights law professor at the University of Mississippi, says “If this passes, all heads will turn to the legislature to figure out how to implement it, but the law gives no guidance as to how to do that. It can reach into so many spheres—the combinations are endless.” One pro-life supporter, Dr. Wayne Slocum claims he can’t support the law because of “all of the possible legal consequences and difficult situations that could arise” as one newspaper stated it.

So far, voters in Mississippi are equal yes to no for Proposition 26. 45 percent of voters support it while 44 percent are against it. The only thing Mississippi and its residents can do now is brace for the “legal mayhem” that could ensue.  [Editor’s Note: After this article was written, the results of the vote were revealed – Proposition 26 was struck down with a 58 – 42 percent vote.]