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AUL in the News: Mississippi Personhood Roundup

There was a great deal of news coverage recently featuring AUL both before and after the vote on Measure 26 in Mississippi last week. A sampling of that coverage is below.

Clarke Forsythe was interviewed by Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post:

“Mississippi should caution people about using abstract, broad language for state constitutional amendments,” says Clark[e] Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life, the country’s oldest antiabortion organization. Caution “will be taken by some and not taken by others. That’s what happens in social movements: There’s no regulatory order.”

Forsythe has repeatedly questioned the strategy of sweeping amendments like the one pushed in Mississippi. But he also does not see the strategy disappearing from the larger antiabortion movement.

John McCormack of The Weekly Standard also wrote about the vote:

By a 59 percent to 41 percent margin, Mississippi voters defeated a measure Tuesday that would have amended the state’s constitution to hold: “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” But the defeat should not be taken as a “major setback” for abortion opponents. The amendment did not have the backing of major pro-life groups, such as National Right to Life Committee and Americans United for Life, or major religious institutions, such as Mississippi’s Catholic bishops, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Methodist church, and the Episcopal Church.

A Religion News Service story also discussed the vote and AUL’s position:

After Tuesday’s defeat, the AUL defended its decision to stay on the sidelines. AUL spokeswoman Kristi Hamrick said the measure, even if it had passed, was not in direct “conflict” with Roe v. Wade and wouldn’t have led to its overthrow.

Asked about Staver’s charge that the AUL is too cautious, she said: “Pro-life organizations who agree on the need to build toward test cases that can overturn Roe v. Wade may not all agree on the best course of action, but friends can engage in separate strategies. It’s not one size fits all.”

From a Politico story:

Other abortion opponents said the measure fell victim to vague wording — a lesson that they said they would take into account as they more carefully craft future efforts in Mississippi and other states.

“There’s no indication that this is related to anything else than the abstract breadth of this language,” said Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel for Americans United for Life, who argues that the Mississippi amendment would not have actually banned any contraceptives.

The Mississippi vote should teach advocates “not to use such broad, abstract [legal] language that confuses people” when trying to enact limits on abortion, Forsythe added.

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