February 27, 2012 — Mississippi lawmakers plan to introduce multiple bills to restrict abortion rights this year, including an attempt to pass legislation similar to a "personhood" measure that voters rejected last year, the AP/Columbus Republic reports.
At a news conference hosted by the Pro Life America Network, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said he wants the state to "be abortion-free." Mississippi already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, the AP/Republicnotes.
In the November election, 58% of voters rejected a ballot measure that would have defined life as beginning at fertilization, which opponents said could have restricted in vitro fertilization and outlawed some forms of birth control. According to the AP/Republic, this year's personhood bill (HC 61) would define life as beginning at "conception." The bill states that the legislation should not be interpreted as banning IVF or contraceptives "that do not kill a person."
Atlee Breland of Parents Against Personhood said after the news conference that the personhood bill is flawed. "I think it's a real shame that they continue to insist that they can find language that will solve the problems when we all know that is not true," Bretland said, adding, "We all know that recognizing an embryo's right to life will inevitably have effects on the way that physicians treat their patients."
Rep. Andy Gipson (R) -- chief sponsor of the personhood amendment -- also is sponsoring a bill (HB 1107) that would require physicians to perform an ultrasound before an abortion. The woman would be given the option to view the ultrasound image and listen to the fetal heartbeat.
Terri Herring, national director of PLAN, said she also would push for legislation to restrict medication abortion (Pettus, AP/Republic, 2/23).