Does a baby have to look like a baby to be recognized as a person?

When voters in Mississippi voted down the human personhood amendment last week, they sent a clear and undeniable message — the pro-life movement is not as pro-life as it thinks it is. The truth is that, even in what may be the most pro-life state in the union, the most basic moral logic of the pro-life movement is not fully embraced or understood.

The voters spoke loudly.  Statewide, 58 percent of voters cast ballots against the amendment. This came after polls had indicated that the amendment, once thought almost certain to pass, was fast losing support among Mississippians in the last days of the campaign.

The idea behind the personhood amendments is clear. Proponents frame the constitutional amendments as a moral statement, as a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, and as a means of prompting legislation that will defend unborn life. Similar efforts failed twice in Colorado in recent years, but Mississippi looked like a sure thing. The state is already, as one leading pastor there told me, “the safest place in America to be an unborn child.” The state adopted pro-life legislation in the wake of Roe v. Wade, and there is only one abortion clinic in the state. The candidates for governor nominated by both major parties both supported the amendment….

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