Regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue itself, every person ought to be disgusted by the political games that Mississippi’s Republican (and Democrat) “leaders” continue to play with Mississippians around hot-button issues (eminent domain, public schooling, and redistricting for example).
UPDATE MARCH 7, 2012: After Republicans campaigned on the back of the personhood amendment that failed last November, two personhood bills were introduced in Jackson this session – one in the MS House (HC 61), and one in the MS Senate (SC 555).
As mentioned below, these bills were the only Constitutionally legitimate way to alter the MS Bill of Rights. But, contrary to what Republicans campaigned on, both HC 61 and SB 555 died quietly in their Republican controlled committees. No surprise there. The moral of the article below is that Republicans, and Democrats, have a long history of saying one thing on the campaign trail, then doing something else once they’re elected.
Initiative 26 is a ballot initiative to amend the Mississippi Constitution to define a “person” to include every human being beginning at the moment of conception. It would effectively criminalize the intentional abortion of a fetus in the state. From the recent Personhood Petition (PDF) that was circulated and signed by over130,000 pro-life Mississippians:
“SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ:
Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”
Again, this article isn’t about the issue of abortion itself, and it isn’t about the use of mob-rule ballot initiatives either. It’s to point out the Republican scam that’s obvious to anyone who’s read the Mississippi Constitution or anyone who’s worked on a ballot initiative and read the Secretary of State’s Citizen’s Guide to Constitutional Initiatives (PDF).
From the Mississippi Constitution, Section 273:
(1) Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by the Legislature or by initiative of the people.
(5) The initiative process shall not be used:
(a) For the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the Bill of Rights of this Constitution; (again, Article 3 is the Bill of Rights)
From page 5 of the Secretary of State’s Citizen’s Guide to Constitutional Initiatives:
The initiative process cannot be used for any of the following:
1. To modify the Bill of Rights.
So on one hand, you have the Mississippi Constitution strictly forbidding ballot initiatives that would change the Bill of Rights. On the other hand, the Personhood Amendment states it’s intention is to amend the Bill of Rights by proposing a new section, Section 33. It’s as if the initiative was designed to fail.
However, Constitutional amendments via the state legislature can modify or propose an addition to the Bill of Rights:
(1) Amendments to this Constitution may be proposed by the Legislature or by initiative of the people.
(2) Whenever two-thirds (2/3) of each house of the Legislature, which two-thirds (2/3) shall consist of not less than a majority of the members elected to each house, shall deem any change, alteration or amendment necessary to this Constitution, such proposed amendment, change or alteration shall be read and passed by two-thirds (2/3) vote of each house, as herein provided; public notice shall then be given by the Secretary of State at least thirty (30) days preceding an election, at which the qualified electors shall vote directly for or against such change, alteration or amendment
I find it really hard to believe that all of the Republican “leaders” who represent various districts throughout Mississippi haven’t read the Constitution they take an oath to defend (actually, I can believe it). So why are so many so-called conservative leaders going along with the scam? Why aren’t any of the so-called conservative “leaders” speaking out about the unquestionably constitutional method of doing what they actually tell their conservative supporters they intend to do?
Who really knows for sure? Politicians tend to have all sorts of crooked motives to do some of the things they do. My guess is that it’s for a couple reasons: 1) Republicans don’t want to ruffle each others feathers – especially Phil Bryant’s; and 2) to gin up fights among voters because it’s the big fights over hot-button conservative issues that drive conservatives in droves to the polls to vote for Republicans. After all, what in the world would politicians do if we didn’t bicker with one another? How would manipulators and do-gooders ever get elected under the banner of limited government? How would politicians ever justify stealing from one person and giving it to another if we didn’t raise a ruckus?
The fact is that if so-called conservative “leaders” wanted a Constitutional amendment that bans abortion in Mississippi, they could have it. Even Democrat Billy McCoy says he supports the Personhood amendment. See, every year a legislator or two will introduce an anti-abortion bill that would amend the MS Constitution and do exactly what Initiative 26 is trying to do. Again, the Mississippi Constitution says the legislative process is the only legal way to change the Bill of Rights.
The biggest obstacle to the several anti-abortion constitutional amendments in Mississippi has been Lt Governor Phil Bryant, who’s pro-life position has been questioned in the past, who made a noble speech on the steps of the Secretary of State’s office (at 5min 30sec) when the signatures were delivered, and who apparently makes deals with the Lord when he prays for higher public office:
When I decided to seek office, I had a simple prayer. Lord, I want to do something very special. … I’d like to end abortion in Mississippi. That’s what I want to do! … And I said, Lord if you’ll send me there, if you’ll let me reach that office, then I’m gonna do all that I can to stop this horrible sin that has blighted America. One day I hope generations will look back and say, “how could we have done such a thing? Where were the people, where were the churches, where were the Christians, where were the leaders that allowed us to destroy the next generation?” .. Now I will assure you, I believe it in my heart the Lord has led us here for this purpose. When this is on the ballot in Nov 2011, you’re gonna see an overwhelming vote. Now they say, ‘oh you guys just wanna get it out because it’s gonna help you and your campaign!’ That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard of!”
But The Truth Is
Every time an anti-abortion Constitutional amendment is introduced in the legislature it dies in the Senate Constitution committee because the Chairman single-handedly kills it. Who is the Chairman of the Senate Constitution committee? Bennie Turner, a socialist Democrat. How did Bennie Turner, a socialist Democrat, become Chairman of such an important committee? Senate Chairs are appointed by the Lt Governor. So it’s limited-government conservative Republican, Phil Bryant, that appointed a socialist Democrat to be the person who single-handedly controls which Constitutional amendments are allowed to come out of the committee and which ones never see the light of day… just like limited-government conservative Republican, Amy Tuck, appointed socialist Democrat Hob Bryan when she was Lt Governor.
Republicans Had The Opportunity To End Abortion
Republicans have had the opportunity to end abortion in Mississippi. One opportunity was in 2011 when Republican Senator, Lee Yancey, introduced SB2743.
SB2743 Summary: AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 41-41-33, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DECLARE LEGISLATIVE INTENT RELATIVE TO THE TERMINATION OF THE LIFE OF AN UNBORN CHILD AND THE PROTECTION OF THE HEALTH AND RIGHTS OF WOMEN; TO PROHIBIT ABORTIONS IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI EXCEPT IN CERTAIN CASES; TO AMEND SECTION 41-41-39, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PRESCRIBE CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
This bill never came out of the Senate Judiciary A committee. Did the Democrats kill this bill? No. Again, Senate committees are created by the Lt Governor – Republican Phil Bryant. In fact, Republicans held a 10-4 majority in the Judiciary A committee with Republican Joey Fillingane as Chairman. So why did SB2743 never get a full vote by the entire Republican-controlled Senate? That’s a good question pro-lifers should be asking as they head to the polls in droves to elect these same people to office in November. After all, this is the bill pro-lifers have been asking for to end the practice of abortion in Mississippi.
Two other major examples of constitutional amendments that have died in the Senate Constitution committee are the eminent domain reform amendment and the amendment that would have nullified the individual mandate in Obamacare. This sort of hidden roadblock that politicians create throughout the legislative process is another reason why big government legislators get away with sounding like limited government legislators. They can sponsor and vote for all sorts of bills that would limit or reduce the size and scope of government without any risk of it actually passing and actually limiting their role in your life. They rely on their constituents not knowing the details of the “law-making” process.
So, when these so-called conservative leaders tell you, “we’ve tried to pass these things, but the Democrats killed it. But I support your ballot initiatives! We (ya’ll) gotta fight it to win it and God Bless the great people of Mississippi!”, what they’re really saying is, “All of the conservatives come out and vote in November to support these initiatives and vote for me, the conservative guy, while you’re at it. Even tho I’ll appoint another socialist Democrat to block certain issues that need to be saved to generate support for Republicans in future elections, and even though the initiatives could be found unconstitutional, but I know you haven’t read the Mississippi Constitution because all you do is take direction from us leaders without thinking. And I know you’ll vote for me for no other reason except you wanna beat my Democrat opponent. So I’m just gonna act like I’m working for you, but I’m really just working for me and my special interest buddies. I’m just gonna act like I’m beating back the size and scope of government, but I’m really expanding the government, spending more of your money, and sinking you and future generations further into debt.”
Yep, it’s all a charade to make it look like they’re doing what they say they’re doing. It’s a game of duck-duck-goose and all folks do is run around in circles when one of these so-called conservative Republicans tag them on the head. And Democrats are in on these games too because they know that Democrats and Republicans will ultimately give each other what they want in the “spirit of bi-partisanship”. All one side has to do is ask for more initially, then “compromise” to satisfy their constituents while leaving enough on the table to keep everyone fighting the next time around, and on and on it goes.
I know a lot of good people spent a lot of time (and even their own money) to gather signatures for the Personhood petition while the scammers rallied them on. And again, no matter where you stand on the abortion issue and the use of mob-rule ballot initiatives, you ought to be disgusted by the ongoing scams by Republican and Democrat “leaders”.