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Mississippi ‘Personhood’ amendment may get challenged in state Supreme Court

According to a press release from Personhood USA issued today, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have appealed to the state Supreme Court in their challenge to Mississippi’s controversial Personhood Amendment.

Personhood USA is calling this decision “conspicuous” because both the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have not sought legal action against the numerous “fetal pain” bills making their way through state legislatures.

Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment 26 states that the “term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” The amendment could result in making all abortions across the board illegal in the state of Mississippi. Such legislation is seen by members of the anti-abortion movement as walking “right through” a door that Roe v. Wade leaves open.

In July 2010, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood sought to remove Initiative Measure Number 26 from Mississippi’s ballot. In October of that year, the motion was denied. Both groups have appealed to a higher court before the initiative makes its way to the 2012 ballot.

The Personhood movement has seen some legislative victories in various other states. State legislatures in North Dakota and Iowa have passed bills. According to a Personhood USA press release, representatives in Montana, Texas and Oklahoma have introduced similar legislation. Mississippi remains somewhat unique by seeking fetal “personhood” through a state constitutional amendment — a method that is seen as less likely to provide results.

An attorney for the Foundation for Moral Law, Ben DuPré, told The American Independent that “code-amending” bills, which are far more popular in state legislatures, “would likely be easier to pass than the constitution-amending law,” which Mississippi is proposing.

However, the fact that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood are aggressively seeking legal action was anticipated by other members of the anti-abortion movement. There are also fears that continuing appeals to higher courts could send the anti-abortion movement backward.

In Florida, Port St. Lucie pastor Bryan Longworth has championed the Personhood movement, maintaining the Florida Personhood website. However, the movement remains a grassroots effort because the extreme language could pose setbacks for the anti-abortion movement.

Neither the American Life League or the Florida Family Policy Council felt it was wise to endorse a Personhood movement in the state of Florida — even though they all agreed with the “intent” behind such legislation.

As The Florida Independent reported earlier in the year, the president of the Florida Family Policy Council, John Stemberger, said such legislation could have unintended consequences.

“Until a clear pro-life majority exists on the U.S. Supreme Court,” he explains, “we feel it is not wise nor prudent to invoke a challenge to Roe v. Wade because a pro-abortion rights Court may root the abortion right in the Equal Protection Clause, making it stronger and more powerful than Roe ever was.”

Personhood USA explains in today’s press release that the group fully anticipates that the ACLU and Planned Parenthood will continue to challenge the legislation:

“Of course we expect Planned Parenthood and the ACLU to continue their unholy alliance in attacking personhood bills and amendments,” explained Keith Mason, cofounder of Personhood USA. “They are terrified that abortion will be made illegal. Planned Parenthood, with the help of the ACLU, is fighting for their ‘right’ to kill children for profit.”

The press release also leveled an attack on Planned Parenthood that has become somewhat popular, particularly in the Florida state legislature, by claiming that Planned Parenthood’s sole interest is to protect “their bottom line”:

The ACLU has teamed up with Planned Parenthood to ensure that Planned Parenthood’s deep pockets are protected. It is outrageous that the billion dollar abortion industry’s bottom line is more important to them than over one million innocent human lives taken every year by abortion.

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