Personhood in Mississippi

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In the October 2011 report to the General Assembly by the UN special rapporteur on health, Anand Grover, said that dignity requires leaving individuals free to make personal decisions without interference from the state, especially in an area as important and intimate as sexual and reproductive health. He also said that criminal law is not an effective way to deal with sexual and reproductive health issues; indeed, its use can violate international human rights law. Women, the report affirmed, are entitled to "information, family planning, and health services that constitute the human right to health."

Women who need or choose to have abortions should not be punished by their governments. South Africa moves ahead in this regard. Mississippi heads in the other direction. A Mississippi ballot measure, the "Personhood" Initiative, is trying to achieve an abortion-less state, even in cases of rape and incest.  How is it that South Africa, a country of traditional, patriarchal values, is progressing in women's rights issues when Mississippi is clearly regressing?

Infographic by the Guttmacher Institute.