Home » NEWS » Health » Barbour votes for 'personhood' initiative after all

Barbour votes for 'personhood' initiative after all

JACKSON — Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said yesterday he voted after all for a state ballot initiative that would declare life begins at fertilization.

The Republican said he voted by absentee ballot yesterday because he won’t be in his hometown for Tuesday’s election.

>> RELATED STORY: MBJ EDITORIAL — Gov. Barbour shows leadership on Initiative 26

>> RELATED STORY: Personhood prop splits Mississippi religious leaders

>> RELATED STORY: Op-Ed — Life and Law — The commitment to pre-embryonic personhood

>> RELATED STORY: Lawsuit challenges Nevada ‘personhood’ initiative

>> RELATED STORY: Anti-abortion group seeks ‘personhood’ amendment to Ohio Constitution

>> RELATED STORY: Mississippi governor ‘concerned’ about personhood amendment, may not vote for measure

Barbour had told reporters Wednesday he was undecided because he thinks the initiative is ambiguous and he had concerns about how it might affect in vitro fertilization and ectopic pregnancies. His comments angered some social conservatives pushing for the change.

“I voted for it. I struggled with it,” Barbour said yesterday in response to questions about his absentee voting.

“I had some concerns about it, have some concerns about it,” Barbour said. “But I think all in all, I know I believe life begins at conception. So I think the right thing to do was to vote for it.”

Barbour weighed a presidential bid in 2012 but decided against it last April.

He answered questions after appearing at a campaign rally for Phil Bryant, the Republican trying to succeed him as governor.

On Wednesday, Barbour said of the ballot measure: “It doesn’t say life begins at conception. It says life begins at fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof — something to that effect. Some very strongly pro-life people have raised questions about the ambiguity and about the actual consequences — whether there are unforeseen, unintended consequences. And I’ll have to say that I have heard those concerns and they give me some pause.”

Barbour’s statements upset Mississippi conservatives such as Dr. Shani Meck, an OB-GYN who practices in Jackson and who supports the “personhood” amendment. She said yesterday that she thought Barbour seemed confused.

“Conception is to fertilization as the Republican Party is to the GOP,” Meck said. “They are one and the same.”

The initiative is backed by a Colorado-based group, Personhood USA, which is seeking to put similar life-at-fertilization measures on ballots next year in Florida, Montana, Ohio and Oregon. Keith Mason, co-founder of Personhood USA, said the group ultimately wants to add such an amendment in the U.S. Constitution.

Before Barbour revealed his vote, Parenthood USA issued a news release yesterday attacking Barbour for accepting campaign contributions in 2007 from Pfizer Inc. and its political action committee. “Was he influenced by misinformation? Or donations from abortion pill makers?” Mason said in a statement.

Meanwhile, some voters received automated telephone calls yesterday urging them to vote against the amendment. The calls used a recording of Barbour’s comments from Wednesday, in which he expressed reservations about the ballot initiative. The calls were paid for by Mississippians for Healthy Families, a group that opposes the amendment

Barbour’s office declined to comment on the Parenthood USA criticism or the automated telephone calls.

If the Mississippi initiative passes next Tuesday, it would become part of the state constitution 30 days after the election results are certified, probably by mid-December. Supporters say that if that happens, they expect it to be challenged in court and that challenge could become an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a legal right to abortion.

The initiative is endorsed by both candidates in a governor’s race that’s also being decided next Tuesday, Bryant and Democrat Johnny DuPree.


… we’d like to ask for your support. More people are reading the Mississippi Business Journal than ever before, but advertising revenues for all conventional media are falling fast. Unlike many, we do not use a pay wall, because we want to continue providing Mississippi’s most comprehensive business news each and every day. But that takes time, money and hard work. We do it because it is important to us … and equally important to you, if you value the flow of trustworthy news and information which have always kept America strong and free for more than 200 years.

If those who read our content will help fund it, we can continue to bring you the very best in news and information. Please consider joining us as a valued member, or if you prefer, make a one-time contribution.

Click for more info

About Megan Wright

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *