Proponents of Mississippi's Initiative 26, the so-called personhood amendment which will amend the state constitution to declare that human life begins at the moment of fertilization and is thus protected as a living human being under the constitution, say that the amendment will not impact the use of birth control. Yes on 26 declares that this is nothing but a scare tactic, writing in a handout:
The Personhood Amendment will not ban the use of hormonal contraceptives, including most forms of the "Pill." However, drugs such as RU486 which allow a baby to be conceived and then expelled will be banned. [Note: The Yes on 26 Campaign does not advocate for the use of contraceptives but unequivocally states that Personhood will not outlaw the "Pill."]
But in an interview with NPR's Diane Rehm on October 31, Walter Hoye, a representative of Personhood USA, told a different story:
HOYE: Any birth control that ends the life of that human being will be impacted by this measure.
REHM: So that would then include the IUD. What about the birth control pill?
HOYE: It falls … It does fall into the same category. Yes.
The issue of birth control was raised in Colorado, where personhood amendments were soundly defeated in 2008 and 2010. The Colorado Bar Association opposed the measure due to its potential impact on birth control. Personhood proponents, who believe that fertilized eggs are human beings, do not support any type of birth control in which a fertilized egg cannot survive. As previously reported:
The argument centers around the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. The fertilized egg cannot survive if it is not implanted. Because most birth-control pills and intrauterine devices work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting, the use of these birth control methods deprives a fertilized egg, as a person, of its lawful and constitutionally guaranteed right to life. These forms of birth control would be classified as abortifacients, or agents that induce abortions, if personhood amendments were passed and became law.
Dan Grossman, an obstetrician/gynecologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told National Public Radio that, "The medical community has really been quite clear about when pregnancy begins, and that definition is that pregnancy begins once implantation occurs." He added that only about half of the fertilized eggs actually implant in the uterus, resulting in a pregnancy.
According to Keith Mason, co-founder of Personhood USA, "Birth control methods that do not kill an innocent human will not be affected." Personhood USA says that once a human egg is fertilized it is no longer an egg, but a new individual with his or her own DNA. It does not address the issue of implantation.
Mason told NPR, "Certainly women, my wife included, would want to know if the pills they're taking would kill a unique human individual, and I think there's a lot of misinformation about that, or lack of information. And I think this is another benefit of what we're doing: We're raising awareness about these issues."
Yesterday, Tim Wildom of the American Family Association, which has been pushing the personhood amendment in Mississippi swept the birth control issue and other concerns, such as entropic pregnancies and the health of the mother, under the table, telling his audience, "Don't be confused with all the legalese and the clutter and the noise out there, folks. Basically, that's fundamentally the question that they're asking, do you believe that the unborn baby, at the moment of fertilization or conception, is a person? Is a human being worthy of protection? If you believe that, you will vote yes."