November 4, 2011 — After voicing reservations about Mississippi's "personhood" ballot initiative, Gov. Haley Barbour (R) on Thursday announced that he cast an absentee ballot in favor of the measure, the AP/Washington Post reports. The initiative would amend the state constitution to define the word "person" as beginning at the moment of fertilization. Voters will consider the measure on Nov. 8, but Barbour said he will be out of town at that time (AP/Washington Post, 11/3).
On Wednesday, Barbour had told reporters that the initiative's language is "ambiguous" and could have unintended consequences. He echoed concerns from physician groups that the measure could restrict in vitro fertilization procedures and make physicians wary of helping women with ectopic pregnancies. Opponents of the measure also have warned that it could ban certain forms of birth control.
Barbour said he opposes abortion rights and believes life begins at conception; however, he noted that the initiative addresses a different question. "It doesn't say life begins at conception. It says life begins at fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof -- something to that effect," Barbour said (AP/Washington Post, 11/2).
On Thursday, Barbour said he "struggled" with the decision and continues to "have some concerns." He added, "But I think all in all, I know I believe life begins at conception. So I think the right thing to do was to vote for it" (AP/Washington Post, 11/3).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.