The Mississippi Personhood Amendment – An Open Letter to Dr Freda Bush

On November 8, Mississippians will be voting on ballot amendment 26 , the so called “Personhood Amendment” that if passed, would declare a fertilized egg a person.

The question at hand is, would the Personhood Amendment be used to outlaw contraception?

Dr Freda Bush, an Ob-Gyn and spokesperson for the Personhood amendment in Mississippi, is misleading voters that it will not. In a press conference in support of the amendment in September, she stated this –

The personhood amendment will not ban the use of hormonal contraceptives.

The video of this press conference is being used to reassure voters about the intent of amendment 26. And yet the information Dr Bush presents about contraception and the amendment stands in complete contrast to that which the personhood movement itself has presented. Here is the standard “talking point” on contraception from personhood sites at states across the country seeking to pass similar amendments –

Won’t a Personhood Law Outlaw Contraceptives?

No, recognizing personhood has no effect on contraceptives because true “contra-ception” only prevents conception (fertilization). However, personhood would prohibit any chemical abortion that kills the youngest boys and girls before or after they implant in their mother’s womb. When the abortion industry says that personhood would outlaw contraceptives, it’s lying. These people have spent decades telling women that such chemicals did not kill a living embryo. Women should know whether or not a chemical would kill their children. A personhood law will end the lies.

It has been a long standing tenet of the anti-abortion movement that birth control pills are considered to be “chemical abortifacents”. They will most surely attempt to use this amendment, if passed, to outlaw hormonal contraception.

Still not convinced? Check out the Colorado Personhood website, where they adress what they call the “scare tactics” of those who oppose the amendment. Here, they try to convince voters that the amendment would not ban contraceptives, and yet in the end only barrier methods come out unscathed.

Contraception comes from the words “contra” and “conception”. Properly understood it means something that prevents conception. In 1965 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued a medical bulletin which “officially” changed the definition of conception from the union of a sperm and an egg to implantation of the young human being in the wall of the uterus. The reason they did this was to make chemical abortifacients seem more palatable to the American people who would now be tricked into believing that the human being did not begin until implantation. While the AMA and pro-abortion bioethicists have tried to obfuscate the meaning of conception, embryology is very clear about the beginning of life: the beginning of life (under normal sexual reproduction) takes place when the sperm touches the ovum. Barrier methods of contraception that prevent the union of the sperm and the egg will not be outlawed, since neither a sperm nor an egg by itself is a human being.

Dr Bush, you and I both know that to our patients, the word “Contraception” means more than just condoms. You yourself have stated that you prescribe birth control pills in your practice. Can you honestly tell me that the “talking points” of this campaign do not encompass the intention of making such prescribing activities illegal?

You have admitted publicly since your press conference that

“I’m not the authority on what would and would not be banned”.

I think that is correct. And yet you have portrayed yourself as that authority. As a result, your press conference is being used to spread misinformation that directly contradicts what appears clearly to be the true intent of the law, which is to outlaw both abortion and any birth control method other than diaphragms and condoms.

Dr Bush, you must by now realize the full intentions of those who are using you. They are taking full advantage not only of your pro-life politics, but of your gender and your race to sway voters to vote against their own self-interest, for a bill that would limit their access to the contraceptives they have relied upon, and that you have prescribed, for years.

Fortunately, it’s not too late. You still have time to hold another press conference. To tell the public, and your patients, the truth about Amendment 26. Don’t tell them that their birth control is safe if you are not sure it is. Tell them the truth.

Your patients have trusted you for years. They deserve no less.

Required reading – The Next Front in the Abortion Wars – Birth Control.

Photo credit – Phil Bryant, AP Photo. Licensed for editorial use.

11 Responses to The Mississippi Personhood Amendment – An Open Letter to Dr Freda Bush

  1. I’m a Christian. And a biochemist. And I want to go on the record announcing that I find these amendments and this line of thought to be bananas. First of all, it’s not a fetus or an embryo upon fertilization. Secondly, based on my understanding of the science, destroying the fertilized egg is the last resort of hormonal birth control, and thirdly, this movement doesn’t even begin to solve the abortion problem. My personal religious beliefs are that aborting an implanted, fertilized egg is wrong. Preventing implantation is not. In addition, my husband and I are aware of the risks and have taken precautions, such as savings in the event of failed birth control. Until we stop unwanted pregnancies, rape, incest, abusive parents who would harm their pregnant, unwed daughters, and start teaching kids about protection, we’ll have abortions. These people are crazy. They’re pandering to the religious right; they’re failing to address the real issue, and they’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

    My apologies for the soapbox. I do love your blog.

  2. I try to tell myself that these people think they’re doing the right thing, but I can’t understand how they think this sort of law won’t cause huge numbers of problems in all sorts of ways. Do they really imagine that people will stop having sex when they don’t want to make a baby or have EVER not had premarital sex? Have they not actually got hormones themselves and felt urges?

  3. Direct attack on Roe v. Wade and the argument of viability of life. As a country, we are losing it.

    Thanks for the well written post informing us of this issue. This is why I live in the Northeast. I would lose my mind being in the bible belt community. I wonder when they plan on bringing back stoning to adulterous women. Plenty of room in Iraq for this kind of thinking…


    • Schrugglin, I live in the Bible belt by choice and I will vote NO on this measure as this is also my choice. Please don’t be so naive as to believe that your self-perceived lofty perch makes your opinion (or your person, for that matter) more important than those of us who find ourselves considering this issue of life at the ballot box. If you would research the facts, you will find that the Press Center for Personhood, U.S.A. is located far outside the Bible belt in Colorado. While I would prefer that they not carpetbag their movement to our state, I find their efforts no more offensive than your elitist ignorance.

      • @No on 26.
        Yeah, yeah, I know. But I know enough about myself to know that I would be miserable there and outraged regularly by the fact that a big part of the bible belt popoulation listens and embraces these kinds of arguments. Other regions of the country don’t engage in the same way in my experience. That’s all. I don’t think that all people in the bible belt believe this drivel, but the fact that it has legs has a lot to do with locale. I hope that they prevailing opinion kills this entirely.

        I will gladly accept your “elitist ignorance” comment when I no longer get asked (regularly I might add) if I have Jesus in my life from strangers. I travel to the area often for work, and this is a common comment from perfect strangers. To me, it is a regional offense I don’t take kindly too. Hence my judgement.

  4. Ugh! Of course it’s bad for women all the way around–starting with the outward premise of forcing women to stay pregnant when they don’t want to be or can’t– and adding in denying women further autonomy to decide when they get pregnant by effectively banning birth control, and further by–as the folks at Feministing point out–forcing women who WANT to carry pregnancies to term to abort or forcing women to have C-sections even if it threatens the mother’s life. That’s what it’s all about! It might as well be called Women Aren’t People Amendment. They don’t care about women and none of their rhetoric can hide that.

  5. very well said, peggy. it is astonishing that they are now going against birth control (but not being very plain about that intention).

    there are so many other terrible implications, should such a bill be passed. it would appear to make the “rights” of a fertilized egg superior to those of a mother; for example, requiring her to delay life-saving treatment until after birth. in some cases, the pregnancy itself is life-threatening to a mother, but that appears not to matter to these zealots. parents who learn that a fetus has a condition that will mean certain death and/or a short, painful life will no longer be able to weigh the choices, but be forced to continue a doomed pregnancy.

    it could also make women who suffer a miscarriage subject to investigation and possible criminal charges. it is easy for others to speculate about what a woman might have done to spark a miscarriage — even though miscarriages are quite common, and there may be no causal link between some external event and the miscarriage. the law could have the dangerous consequence of making women afraid to seek medical care after a miscarriage, although in some instances treatment is needed.

    i do not know what this would mean for IVF clinics. it is my understanding that some fertilized eggs are not used. certainly, there are sound reasons to avoid implanting too many eggs. would disposal of excess eggs mean homicide charges?

    • Kathy,
      You said:
      i do not know what this would mean for IVF clinics. it is my understanding that some fertilized eggs are not used. certainly, there are sound reasons to avoid implanting too many eggs. would disposal of excess eggs mean homicide charges?

      That is certainly a possibility. We know they want to make it illegal to freeze the eggs. This means they will put all of the eggs they fertilize in the uterus. They also want to reduce the number of eggs they take and fertilize which lowers the chance of a pregnancy to occur (and as you probably know the chances are not high in the first place). We only have three doctors who perform IVF in Mississippi and this will certainly hurt their businesses. Most patients seeking this treatment will probably go out of the state to do it so that they are not paying as much for lowered pregnancy chances.

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