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'Personhood' prop splits Mississippi religious leaders

Mississippi religious leaders are split on a “personhood” initiative on next Tuesday’s ballot.

Rabbi Debra Kassoff expresses her opposition to the proposed "personhood" amendment during a news conference called by religious leaders representing a number of faiths and churches at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011. Emissaries from local United Methodist and Episcopal bishops read statements opposing the state ballot initiative that declares life begins when a human egg is fertilized.

Initiative 26 would amend the state constitution to declare life begins at fertilization.

The state’s largest religious group, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, supports the proposal, as does the Tupelo-based American Family Association.

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The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, the Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray III, says he is “gravely concerned about the unintended consequences” of the initiative.

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church has not addressed “personhood” initiatives, and the church’s Mississippi bishop, the Rev. Hope Morgan Ward, says she doesn’t support the ballot measure.

Bishop Joseph Latino of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson says individual Catholics “may vote as they so choose.”

Rabbi Deborah Kassoff of Greenville’s Hebrew Union Congregation opposes the initiative.


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About Megan Wright


  1. For those who oppose the personhood admendment – when did you become a person in your mother’s womb? Was it at the moment of conception or after the heartbeat could be heard? What applies to the unborn applies to you. If you say that the unborn is not a person at conpection, then you were not a person when your parents conceived you. Stop being selfish. You are either on the one side or the other — when you sit on the fence, you will fall off sooner or later.

    May God forgive you if you say NO to the unborn!

  2. Simple people need simple answers with “zero tolerance” rules to live by…. We’ve got so lazy about actually thinking that we just want someone to give us a dumbed-down rule to follow. The problem is, the answer is just slightly… not grossly… more complicated. I’ll try to simplify it… We all agree that HUMAN life ENDS… yes, that’s right, ENDS… when brain stem activity stops… that person is then declared dead. Knowing this fact, how can HUMAN life begin BEFORE that same brain activity starts? Sure it’s “life” just as any other growing cellular organism is “life”… but it’s not a HUMAN life until the type of brain activity begins that makes us human. Abortion should be ILLEGAL AFTER such brain activity begins [typically around 10-12 weeks] but it should be legal up until that point. There is no Biblical basis for life beginning at conception… so why the need for a dumbed-down, black & white rule to go by? Why can’t we make a simple observation… AND THEN make an intelligent decision based on that data? This is a medical procedure, not a sacrament.

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