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Mississippi Medical Association: 'Personhood' initiative worries physicians

The Mississippi Medical Association says physicians could be placed in a “perilous position” by passage of a proposed amendment to the state constitution that defines life as beginning at fertilization.

The Mississippi Medical Association insists it has not adopted a position on the so-called Initiative 26 but emphasized passage of the anti-abortion “personhood” amendment would change the way many Mississippi doctors practice medicine.

The unintended consequences “will affect all physicians — not just gynecologists,” said Dr. Thomas Joiner, a Jackson family medicine physician and president of the Mississippi Medical Association.

“Like all laws, Proposal 26 could be tested by the judicial system. A legal challenge could negate the medical decisions now entrusted to a patient and her physician,” he said. “Judges and juries are not fungible. There is no way to predict the outcome of a legal challenge. Some verdicts simply defy belief; and, in my opinion, this constitutional amendment could place well-intentioned physicians in a perilous situation.”

Joiner said he issued the statement at the direction of the association’s Board of Trustees.

Meanwhile, the University of Mississippi Medical Center says that although it is not taking a position on the initiative, it wants to preserve “patient access to safe and reliable medical treatments for infertility.”

Some interpretations of the amendment hold that it could outlaw fertility clinics, including the one operated by the medical center, as well as some types of birth control pills and devices such as the IUD.

However, the campaign director of the pro-amendment coalition Yes on 26, Brad Prewitt, said the coalition put forth the amendment with no intention of banning either birth control or fertility clinics.

The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in early September that the initiative could go on the Nov. 8 ballot but could be subject to further challenge on whether the measure violated constitutional rules governing citizen initiatives by adding a whole new section to the state constitution’s bill of rights.

Here’s the wording of the ballot question:

“The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”


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  1. Yes on 26, Brad Prewitt, said the coalition put forth the amendment with no intention of banning either birth control or fertility clinics.

    The “intentions” of the Yes On 26 campaign don’t count for anything at all. As Dr. Joiner’s statement notes, a law means what it says, not what its supporters would like to think. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to the courts and the state legislature to decide what is and isn’t prohibited under Initative 26.

    Do you REALLY trust the government to decide what specific forms of birth control, or what infertility treatment procedures, are acceptable?

    As a mother thanks to infertility treatment, I certainly don’t want to put my family at the mercy of politicians’ good intentions.

  2. As a mother thanks to infertility treatments, I would have thought that you would have recognized the life that you carried as person from the moment of conception, however your child was conceived. In some states a pregnant woman can be charged with child abuse if she does drugs while pregnant. When does it become a child if not at conception? And if it’s a child it has right! I read the following:

    Pro Choice advocates are trying to say that this will ban the sale of birth control in Mississippi. They claim that the way birth control pills work is that it prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. I went onto Planned Parenthood’s website to check out what they said about birth control methods. With the exception of the morning after pill, every method examined states that the method prevents the sperm from reaching the egg. Pro Choice advocates are terrified of the passing of 26 and are using scare tactics to try to persuade Pro Life advocates to vote no. Do not take someone’s word for it (even mine). Find out the facts for yourself! And then vote YES!

  3. Gina: talk to your reproductive endocrinologist about 26.
    Prop 26 will make many of the very procedures you underwent to become pregnant illegal.
    (It will also prevent the prescribing of contraceptive devices such as an IUD, and will prevent doctors from prescribing Plan B for rape victims in the ER. Is that what you want? Really?)

    Seriously. FIND OUT THE FACTS. Freda Bush and Eric Webb are, sadly, WRONG.

    All these reasons, and more, are why, yesterday October 10th, at about 4 pm the Board of Trustees of the Mssissippi State Medical Association issued the following statement:
    “MSMA realizes there are strong feelings both for and against Proposal 26 that we recognize and appreciate. Our concern is not with those issues and we do not in any way wish to take sides.

    Our concern is how this amendment will affect the common practice of obstetrics and gynecology. We fear that it will place in jeopardy a physician who tries to save a mother’s life by performing procedures and employing techniques physicians have used for years.

    The common procedures we use now could be interpreted as murder or wrongful death if Proposal 26 passes. This justifiably will limit the physician’s options and deter use of common lifesaving procedures.

    It is for this reason only, the MSMA Board of Trustees cannot support Proposal 26.”

    THis is not ‘Planned Parenthood’, or the ACLU, this is the Mississippi State Medical Association…a group of the most conservative, pro-life people/doctors you will ever meet.

    I agree with you on ONE thing: find out the REAL facts. Then vote NO.

  4. I think you should be concerned with medicaid paying for child birth on dead beat dads that keep impregnating girls. If medicaid pays for a child birth, they should fix both parents so they don’t pay for more down the road… My son in law is fixing to have his 5th child and doesn’t support the 4 he has. If he supported his children and had insurance, we would save that medicaid and food stamps that are supporting his sorry butt. We need doctors subscribing the morning after pill and birth control to our young adults and rape patients.

  5. As a physician I agree with Gina. If life begins at conception, then allow the law to give that life the respect it deserves. I don’t see an “intent” to do away with obstetric procedures unless they specifically intend harm to a developing baby. I appreciate Dr. Bush’s opinion as an OB/GYN on the subject.

  6. only cowards defer their morality by proxy.
    vote NO on the forced baby factory bill, #26.

  7. My response to Mississippi’s draconian anti-abortion bill that would also ban some forms of birth control.


  8. This is a clear no. What it really does is give the government tighter control over our lives. We see how that goes. The government couldn’t manage a one car funeral!

  9. I do not know for sure if birth control will be banned, women will be denied the care they need, etc. However, if there is any chance that this could happen, then I have to vote NO. For the sake of all women, why take a chance?

  10. Has anyone googled Mississippi Medical Association? Not Mississippi STATE Medical Association. Mississippi Medical Association has NO presence of the web.

  11. I only hope there are enough intelligent, thinking voters in Mississippi to vote DOWN this proposition. Politics plus emotionalism plus religion minus intelligence equals A SORRY MESS! Once again Mississippi is earning its terrible reputation with this proposition.

    By the way, Gina….Obviously, you aren’t too grateful for becoming a mother due to infertility treatments, since you want to take that opportunity away from others. In vitro fertilization would not be allowed under the “personhood” initiative.

  12. Gina:

    I never quite understood conservatives who complained about paying food stamps and medicaid, and–then–turned around to stop contraceptives and (by proxy) force a wide-swath of individuals to become baby factories.

    Man, I understand (without agreeing) some people’s want for cheap labor, but I never thought they would try to lambast fellow Americans to become it.

  13. I do not want to see the government involved in what I consider a private matter between a woman and her doctor. And I am totally against a bunch of men making decisions that affect women, and as a nurse let the doctor be the one to best advise his patients, not the government.

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