The North Dakota House of Representatives has passed the first personhood amendment in the United States, 57-35. Read more
Personhood Mississippi sends daughter of rape victim on tour to garner support for abortion criminalization measure
by Sofia Resnick | 06.09.11 | 4:30 pm
Before Mississippians have a chance vote on the criminalization of abortion in the 2011 general election (and before the Mississippi Supreme Court rules whether or not to prevent the constitutional amendment from going on the ballot), the anti-abortion rights activists behind the movement are making concerted efforts to ensure the measure has the votes to pass.
The inclusion of the “personhood” ballot question — “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?” — was the result of a citizens’ initiative, led by anti-abortion rights group Personhood Mississippi, the local affiliate of Personhood USA.
Last week, in a preemptive move to diffuse any concerns that the measure — Amendment 26 — criminalizing abortion would negatively impact victims of rape or incest, Personhood Mississippi held a week-long “Conceived in Rape Lecture Series,” held in Southaven, Laurel, Meridian and Gulfport, during which Personhood spokesperson and attorney Rebecca Kiessling told her story.
According to Kiessling, she was conceived during rape and put up for adoption. Then when she located her birth mother as a young adult, she says her mother told her that, had abortion been legal at the time of her pregnancy, she would have aborted Kiessling.
Kiessling on being a prospective target for abortion:
According to Personhood USA spokesperson Jennifer Mason, the tour also served as a fundraiser; donations go to so-called crisis pregnancy centers in the state.
On the Rachel Maddow Show Wednesday night, Maddow blasted the group’s tour, saying the Personhood activists “are forcing women who are victims in rape to bear the rapist’s child.”
Watch an excerpt from the show:
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On Thursday, Personhood USA released a statement in response to Maddow’s comments:“I am not the rapist’s child!” Kiessling writes in the statement. “He doesn’t even know of my existence, as in most rape cases. And what an insult to the majority of rape victims who not only choose life for their child, but choose to raise their child — after everything they’ve been through, Maddow has the audacity to refer to the rape victim’s child as being ‘the rapist’s child’?! She does not speak for the majority of rape victims who express that their child has brought them healing, helping them to overcome the rape. The ones who abort are four times more likely to die within the next year. If you truly have compassion for a rape victim, you’d want to protect her from the abortion and not the baby! A baby is not the worst thing that could ever happen to a rape victim — an abortion is.”
Mason said Personhood USA is confident Mississippians will adopt Amendment 26 in the next election, particularly because most people in the state are against abortion rights.
“Most people who are pro-life are pro-life in every circumstance, ” Mason said. “I think people in Mississippi are ready for a personhood amendment, [to give] everyone a chance to live.”
Challenges to Roe v. Wade, by making providing abortions a crime –- even in the case of rape or incest –- have seen progress in states such as Alabama and Louisiana. As the Florida Independent recently reported, last month in Louisiana, Rep. John LaBruzzo (R-Metairie), compared abortion to illegal drug use at a hearing for a bill criminalizing abortion, which on Wednesday was recommitted to the House Committee on Appropriations. At the same hearing, Kiessling made the case that criminalizing abortion will end rape and incest because, “not only does the rape typically end after [the mother] gives birth, but also for all the other young women in the household who are being raped.”
Personhood Mississippi’s website lists endorsements for Amendment 26 from churches and Christians ministries, medical professionals and elected officials and political leaders. Listed supporting politicians include candidates for various offices, such as Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who is running for governor; several House representatives, such as Reps. Larry Baker (R-District 8), Philip Gunn (R-District 56); and several state senators, including Sens. Chris McDaniel (R-District 42), Lee Yancey (R-District 20), Billy Hewes (R-District 49), Eric Powell (D-District 4), Nickey Browning (D-District 3), Merle Flowers (D-District 19), Joey Fillingame (R-District 41), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-District 39). Republican U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee is also listed as a supporter for the amendment.