Personhood Amendment Will Not Change Legal Safeguards for Physicians Providing Necessary Treatment to Pregnant Patients

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy has received many questions about the legal implications of Ballot Initiative 26 – The Personhood Amendment. One question that stands out is whether the amendment would subject medical professionals to prosecution for performing life-saving procedures, such as treating a woman for cancer or terminating an ectopic pregnancy. This memo provides both a legal and ethical response to this and related questions.

The legal analysis concludes the following:

• Mississippi law permits abortion in order to save the life of the mother. Our statutes already exempt physicians from being prosecuted for terminating an ectopic pregnancy. Passage of the Personhood Amendment would not change these statutes.

• Mississippi law protects medical professionals from criminal liability for the accidental homicide of an unborn person. Under the Personhood Amendment, there will continue to be no criminal liability for medical professionals who prescribe a medication fatal to an unborn baby to treat a female patient whose pregnancy was unknown and was not reasonably discoverable.