Today, Mississippi voters will decide whether or not fertilized eggs qualify as “persons” by law from the moment when sperm meets egg.
Proposition 26, Mississippi’s anti-abortion amendment, pushes legal “personhood” back to the moment of fertilization—a point that is by and large not medically detectable. Proponents of the new law say that the law is not designed to ban the use of hormonal contraceptives. However, “Yes on 26” members are openly opposed to birth control methods.
If “personhood” is defined from the moment when sperm meets egg, any birth control method—like birth control pills or intrauterine devices (IUDs) —could be outlawed.
Pittsburgh family physician Deborah Gilboa says the reason these methods could be outlawed is because they work by making the uterus an inhospitable place for implantation by a fertilized egg—which could mean that women who are taking these methods are actually flushing out some fertilized eggs.
“If you have anything that makes the lining of the uterus not hospitable and [the fertilized egg] doesn’t attach, the woman won’t ever know, because it’s tiny, just microscopic,” Gilboa told LiveScience.
It’s difficult to pinpoint how often any of these types of birth control methods actually result in the flushing of a fertilized egg. Gilboa says that barrier methods like condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps would be legal under Proposition 26, because they don’t actually allow sperm and egg to meet.
Still, barrier methods have not been found to be as effective.
If Proposition 26 does end up passing, a Supreme Court challenge is likely. Proposition 26 breaks rules that were laid down in the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which affirms a woman’s right to abortion. And contraceptive debates are likely to play into the proceedings as well.
Many are worried that if Proposition 26 bans popular contraception methods, illegal and life-threatening abortions could ensue.
What do you think? Should a woman have the right to birth control?