Gov. Barbour Votes For Personhood Bill He Admits Is Problematic

November 04, 2011 5:01 pm ET — Kate Conway

Gov. Haley Barbour

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) knows that the passage of his state's ballot initiative to establish "personhood" from the moment of conception could be disastrous, but it looks like he doesn't really care.

On Tuesday, Mississippi's citizenry is set to vote on whether to amend the state's constitution to define as a "person" "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof." The passage of the ballot initiative would not only effectively ban abortion, even in the case of rape and incest, but could also ban birth control, the morning after pill, interfere with in vitro fertilization and make it illegal for women to take action to preserve their lives or health in the event of pregnancy complications.

Even Gov. Barbour, an unabashed foe of abortion rights, knows just how serious the repercussions of the amendment could be, and on Wednesday he explained why he was "concerned" about the extremity of the initiative's language:

"I'm somebody that believes life begins at conception, that's one of the reasons I'm pro-life," Barbour said Wednesday on Fox News. "But a lot of pro-life people have problems with this particular language... There's concern this is ambiguous, even in an enormously pro-life state like mine, there is some concern about this."

Later on MSNBC, Barbour added, "I am concerned about some of the ramifications on in vitro fertilization, ectopic pregnancies where pregnancies [occur] outside the uterus and in the fallopian tubes. That concerns me, I have to just say it."

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg (a "person," if the amendment passes) implants in the fallopian tube, the ovary, the abdomen or the cervix, which, unable to support a growing fetus, eventually bursts, threatening the woman's life. According to National Institutes of Health, "Ectopic pregnancies cannot continue to birth." Even Haley Barbour understands that affording to a doomed mass of cells rights that may well supersede the right of a fully grown woman to medical care and perhaps even to life itself is insane.

Or does he?

Yesterday, just one day after expressing his concerns, Barbour voted by absentee ballot in favor of the amendment:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he voted for a state ballot initiative that would declare life begins at fertilization.

The Republican says he voted by absentee ballot Thursday because he won't be in his hometown for Tuesday's election.

And get this: Barbour told reporters he "still has concerns about how it might affect health care."

Barbour is the worst kind of anti-abortion hardliner: one who takes his head out of the sand long enough to realize that some restrictions on reproductive health really are beyond the pale for those who honestly value life, but who is willing to dismiss those nagging 'concerns' in order to realign himself with the far right — even when it means shredding the rights of half of his state's population.