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Physicians for Reproductive Choice urges Mississippians to reject ‘Personhood’ amendment

Health Board Chair Douglas Laube is voicing strong opposition to Mississippi’s proposed “fetal personhood” amendment, which will be voted on tomorrow. Amendment 26 aims to grant legal rights to fertilized eggs; the measure could have severe consequences for women’s reproductive health.

Personhood supporters, who have launched similar initiatives in states across the country, want to make abortion illegal, but critics worry they will also jeopardize the legality of the birth control pill, intra-uterine devices and some in-vitro fertilization techniques.

In a statement released today, Laube, a gynecologist/obstetrician who sits on the board of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, says he would “be hard-pressed to help many of [his] patients” should the bill pass.

Laube’s full statement:

I am an obstetrician/gynecologist, and under Amendment 26 in Mississippi, I would be hard-pressed to help many of my patients. Abortion would be a criminal act. Some of the most reliable and effective forms of birth control could be illegal. And my colleagues who specialize in infertility could have fewer legal options to help women having trouble conceiving.

I think of the thousands of women I have treated in the past three decades. So many of them needed care that Amendment 26 would prohibit—I can’t imagine turning my back on any of them.

Giving legal rights to fertilized eggs means taking safe, vital medical care away from women. Amendment 26 would force women who became pregnant as a result of rape or incest to stay pregnant, no matter what.

Whether or not they wish to become parents, women sometimes experience severe or life-threatening health problems during pregnancy that can only be treated with abortion. Amendment 26 would deny these patients control over this difficult decision. No need for them to talk with family and clergy about what to do—Amendment 26 would leave them no choice but to put their health and lives at risk.

Amendment 26 could rob women of the birth control pill and the IUD, two contraceptives that have helped my patients become parents when they were ready and raise healthy, thriving families. No one in Mississippi should lose access to the contraceptive that is most effective for them. Everyone deserves the ability to plan when to bring a child into the world.

I urge the citizens of Mississippi to vote no on Amendment 26. Personhood for fertilized eggs is not worth the risk.

Laube is not alone in his criticism of the bill. Though support for Mississippi’s Personhood amendment is strong, so is its opposition.

But even those who find the bill to be problematic aren’t taking a very strong stance against it. Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour recently listed his concerns with the amendment, leading many to believe he may be one of the few lawmakers to publicly oppose it. But Barbour ended those rumors on Thursday night, voting in favor of Amendment 26 via absentee ballot.

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