Gov. Haley Barbour’s comments last week that he has concerns over ballot Initiative 26 that seeks to define a “person” in state law should be all we need to hear as we go to the polls this week.
There is no question where Barbour stands on abortion as a conservative Republican who was on the verge of running for president earlier this year.
“Some very strongly pro-life people have raised questions about the ambiguity and about the actual consequences — whether there are unforeseen consequences,” Barbour said. “They give me some pause.”
Choosing fertilization as the person-defining event in the reproductive process is biologically significant, and has far-reaching impacts in areas such as birth control, assisted reproductive technology, and even gestation more generally.
For Barbour to make his comments just before the election shows that he has the wisdom to understand that pre-embryonic personhood has implications beyond the abortion context.
To be consistent, we would need to be committed to outlawing any form of birth control that has efficacy after fertilization occurs, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs), the morning after pill, and other methods (regardless of form — pill, patch, shot or otherwise), that do not specifically prevent fertilization from occurring. We must be willing to restrict a couple’s choice as to the birth control method they will use, notwithstanding any medical reasons for choosing one method over another.
Both Republican and Democratic candidates, for governor have come out in favor of the initiative, as have other candidates for statewide office.
Yet, Barbour, who doesn’t have to pander to voters, has been willing to speak his mind, which is thoughtful.
No one is for abortion, so any legislation about it must be thoughtful. Barbour has shown real leadership on this issue.
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