The New York Times reports on the "push for personhood" and a new anti-abortion amendment in Mississippi:
A constitutional amendment facing voters in Mississippi on Nov. 8, and similar initiatives brewing in half a dozen other states including Florida and Ohio, would declare a fertilized human egg to be a legal person, effectively branding abortion and some forms of birth control as murder.
With this far-reaching anti-abortion strategy, the proponents of what they call personhood amendments hope to reshape the national debate....
The amendment in Mississippi would ban virtually all abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. It would bar some birth control methods, including IUDs and “morning-after pills” that prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterus. It would also outlaw the destruction of embryos created in laboratories.
Catholics certainly believe that life begins at conception, but many who hope to ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade—including Catholic bishops—think the amendment is a step in the wrong direction. According to the Times:
The drive for personhood amendments has split the anti-abortion forces nationally. Some groups call it an inspired moral leap, while traditional leaders of the fight, including National Right to Life and the Roman Catholic bishops, have refused to promote it, charging that the tactic is reckless and could backfire, leading to a Supreme Court defeat that would undermine progress in carving away at Roe v. Wade.
A statement last week from Bishop Joseph Latino of Jackson, Miss., included his thoughts on the petitioning phase of the amendment: "I join with Catholic Bishops in several other states in not endorsing Personhood petitions to be circulated in our Catholic parishes. We have committed ourselves to working for a federal amendment and feel the push for a state amendment could ultimately harm our efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade."
The statement also included his thoughts now that the amendment has moved beyond the petitioning phase: "Although the Diocese of Jackson is not taking a position of public support for this amendment, individual Catholics, having formed their consciences, may vote as they so choose. The Roman Catholic Church and her bishops are unequivocally pro-life; however, we do not always publicly support every initiative that comes before us in the name of pro-life."