Mississippi voters are deciding today on whether a fertilized egg should be legally considered a “person.” They’ll be choosing to reject or support Initiative 26, which was until weeks ago expected to pass easily but is now too close to call.
If passed, the “personhood” amendment has incredibly wide-ranging implications, not only for abortion rights but also for fertility treatment, birth control, women’s medical care and even potentially seemingly unrelated issues like the drinking age and voting. It will likely face an immediate constitutional challenge. Although attempts to pass such a bill in Colorado have already failed twice, supporters of Personhood USA hope to get similar legislation on the ballots of half of all states by 2012, according to NPR.
But the potential for such a law to cause widespread legal and medical havoc has even some strongly anti-abortion leaders (like Mississippi’s Catholic and Episcopal bishops) sitting out the debate or actually opposing the amendment. Here are some of the issues that a personhood law could affect.