Why I’m Glad My Miscarriage Wasn’t In Mississippi


Written by Kim Gandy, Ms. Magazine

I had a miscarriage in 1991. No one accused me of murder. No one arrested and jailed me on suspicion of abortion. No one charged me with endangering the miscarried fetus.

If Initiative 26 to amend the Mississippi constitution passes next week, that won’t be true for the next woman who miscarries. She will be looking over her shoulder for the police (not the anti-abortion police, the real badge-carrying kind) to question her about the circumstances and maybe arrest her if she doesn’t have a doctor who can offer a satisfactory explanation.

Think I’m exaggerating? Think again. Initiative 26 would define a fertilized egg, from the moment of conception, as a legal “person” with all the rights and legal protections of a living, breathing child. From the moment of conception. So a miscarriage would be murder, unless you could prove it was accidental. And of course, so would an abortion–at any stage, no matter how early.

Yep, the birth control pill too–because hormonal pills can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Yes, I know, implantation is the accepted medical definition of pregnancy, and you’re not yet pregnant if the fertilized egg hasn’t implanted in the uterus–but why should Mississippi care what the obstetricians and gynecologists say?

What about an ectopic pregnancy, where a fertilized egg has implanted in the fallopian tube? Would surgery to remove it be prohibited? Maybe yes, because there is no exception to preserve the life of the woman. Seriously: no exception.

Worst of all (could it be worse?) is this: If this passes in Mississippi, it will encourage our opponents to put it on ballots in key states such as Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin next year, affecting millions of women and bringing ultraconservative voters to the polls. If we win in conservative Mississippi, it will discourage them from pursuing this strategy in (even slightly) more progressive states. Think about it.

I was fortunate to have had my miscarriage in circumstances of care and support, where the trauma of miscarriage was not compounded by threat of prosecution.

If you have friends in Mississippi, they may not be so lucky. If you haven’t talked with them lately, this would be a good time to call, write, text, Facebook or otherwise remind them to Vote No on 26 next Tuesday. It could affect far more than Mississippi. Don’t let it slip your mind–do it now.

This post was originally published by Ms. Magazine.

Kim Gandy, active in women’s issues for 30 years, is the former president of NOW and is currently VP and General Counsel of the Feminist Majority.


Related Stories:

Giving Rights to Fertilized Eggs Could Potentially Jail or Kill Mothers

Who Has 10 Kids and Wants to Outlaw Birth Control? This Guy!

Tennessee Commission Gives Family Planning Contract to Religious Health Group


Photo from incognito2020 via flickr


pam w.
pam w6 years ago

Tsk, tsk, Maggie....it's in their BIBLE...women should submit to their husbands. It's also in their QURAN...women are chattel.

Anyone insecure enough to enjoy subjugating women can find ample justification in his religious texts. That's why they were written the way they were!

Maggie Neal
Margaret Neal6 years ago

Jane W., I agree. They want to take us back to the lifestyle of the founding fathers - when women were chattel and had no rights. And all those evangelical women are cheering them on. Because they've been brainwashed to believe a woman must obey her husband in all things. So really those Stepford wives have already ceded their rights to their "lords and masters."

So have you decided yet where you'll emigrate to when this country becomes uninhabitable?

And oh yes, these same men deride the Arab countries for denying women equal rights! Such hypocrites!

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W6 years ago

Hey Mark - In addendum to your comment -
I lived in Alabama next door. When I was forced to get a new driver's license, not only did I have to jump through some very expensive hoops to prove I was born in this country, (getting a certified copy WITH embossment of my birth certificate), but the price was a whopping $116.00

Everyone talks about how everyone has to have a drivers' license but who can afford those prices?? Not the poor, that's for sure. I simply left the state, but thank God I at least had that option.
Now I know why so many of my coworkers rode bicycles!

Jane Warre
Jane Warren6 years ago

The next step will be a law stating that women cannot refuse to have sex - because that prevents the possibility of a fertilized embryo.

rene davis
irene davis6 years ago


Jane Barton
Jane Barton6 years ago

Well, how can WE fight insanity in MS?

Mark Sebree
Mark Sebree6 years ago

To add insult to injury, there is also an Initiative 27 on the ballot in Mississippi. It is a Voter ID resolution that would require all voters to have a government issued photo ID to vote. The people that would be most affected by this would be the poor, blacks, hispanics, many women, and students, all the groups that traditionally vote more heavily Democrat. Again, wealthy, white, republican men are trying to keep themselves in power by doing everything that they can to prevent everyone with a brain, a heart, and open eyes from voting Democrat and ruining their free ride.

"Persons of color" actually outnumber whites in the repressive and backwards state of Mississippi. (Made that way by the racist and uncaring "southern white 'gentlemen'") If they would vote and perform their civil duty, they have a chance of reversing the goals of "The Man" who wants to keep them down.

pam w.
pam w6 years ago

Agreed....BUT.....the problem with these nut freaks is that they're creating laws to enforce their lunacy on the rest of us!

You can be as devout and pious as you wish...you do NOT have the right to enforce that devotion into my reproductive life!

Jane Barton
Jane Barton6 years ago

These guys are all a bunch of sick freaks. There aren't enough nut houses to hold them all.

Mark Stevenson
Mark S6 years ago

I am glad I am not a women, but ashamed to be a man, because it's men that enact stupid legislations like this.