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Students, citizens rally against Amendment 26

Petre Thomas/The Daily Mississippian

In front of the courthouse on the Oxford Square Wednesday night, a “Vote No for Amendment 26” rally took place. 

Amendment 26 is on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election, and has been controversial within the state.

Betsy Chapman, an organizer of the event, referred to the event as the “Save the Pill Rally.” 

“We’re calling it the ‘Save the Pill Rally,’ as it has been widely publicized that there are a lot of questions about how 26 will affect birth control,” she said. “The problem is that nobody can say for sure how it will, whether or not it will, but were just raising the questions that we think are good questions to ask.” 

Chapman is part of a group of women who met through a discussion group and started working on the “Vote No” campaign. Each woman worked on different things before the group decided to collaborate together in order to organize its ideas.

“The most important questions to be asked are the ones by women students about how this will be affecting their birth control options,” Chapman said. “They are at a time when it is not good to have a child in the middle of their education. I believe that mothers and babies are better off when the mother is prepared to have a baby.”

University of Mississippi graduate student Jacquelyn Kyle attended the rally because she thinks it’s important to make it clear that Initiative 26 is not just about abortion rights. 

“It’s also about birth control because of the way birth control works, or one of the ways it works is preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, which would be classified as murder or killing a person under this initiative,” she said.

Kyle said she believes Amendment 26 has a strong chance of failing.

“It has a lot of repercussions for invitro fertilization,” she said. “It would regulate it out of legality. You could be investigated for miscarriages now. I think that it’s an awful initiative all around. I think that if they want to go after abortion rights, they would word it differently.” 

Another group at the rally was the Law Students for Reproductive Justice, an Ole Miss chapter. The group is a new organization that was introduced this year and is not just in Mississippi, as there are several chapters nation wide. 

Elizabeth Feder-Hosey is the founding president of the chapter. 

“We’re here because this is about reproductive justice,”  she said. “We are entitled to health care, when we want to start a family, how we want to start a family, if you want to start a family. That’s why we’re here today. We want to tell Oxford and anyone who’s looking that Mississippians want to vote no.” 

The group is also hosting a community forum on Nov. 1 about the legal consequences of Amendment 26 at the Robert C. Khayat Law Center. 

“I think that the chances of Amendment 26 passing are 50/50,” Feder-Hosey said. “There are a lot of people who keep it quiet or vote differently when it’s in private. Mississippi is filled with very educated and forward thinking people who are for women’s families and protecting women’s rights. I feel like there are just enough people who share our point of view.”

Dr. Tom Fowlkes, an emergency physician, spoke at the rally representing two different organizations: the Mississippi Medical Association, which opposed the amendment, and his Episcopalian bishop, who wrote a statement also opposing the amendment. 

Roman Catholic bishops in Mississippi and in several other states have said they could not support the legislation, according to the Rev. Duncan M. Gray, III. 

“I am gravely concerned about the unintended consequences of this legislation,” Fowlkes said. “The moral nightmares of doctors no longer able to give preference to saving the life of the mother in such cases as an ectopic pregnancy and the uncertain impact on invitro fertilization are real. Thus, the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Medical Association has announced that it cannot support this legislation.” 

If interested in Vote No for Amendment 26, visit www.votenoon26.org/get-involved.