Politics & Government

Barbour protests as Mississippi battles over when life begins

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Friday he asked a group that opposes a ballot initiative defining life as beginning at “fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof” to stop using a recording of his voice in automated phone calls asking voters to oppose the measure.

The robocall, sent on behalf of Mississippians For Healthy Families which opposes Initiative 26, also known as “the Personhood Amendment,” went out to homes all over the state. The recording used comments that Barbour made on cable television networks this week that he had concerns about the measure and its repercussions. Barbour said he was worried the proposition was “ambiguous” and also worried about how it might affect in-vitro fertilization and ectopic pregnancies.

“I’m pro-life,” Barbour said on MSNBC. “Americans United for Life picked me their man of the year several years ago. I believe life begins at conception. Unfortunately this personhood amendment doesn’t say that. It says ‘life begins at fertilization or cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.’ That ambiguity is striking a lot of pro-life people here as concerning and I’m talking about people who are very outspokenly pro-life.”Barbour

The comments from Barbour drew some scorn from those pushing for the change. After the comments aired, the robocall was made and the calls began going out to homes. After making the comments, Barbour said Thursday he had struggled with the issue, but ultimately voted in support of it by absentee ballot because he wouldn’t be home on election day, according to the Associated Press. Barbour released a statement Friday saying he had asked for the robocalls to stop.

“A pro-abortion group has called people’s homes and deceived voters into thinking I’m opposed to Initiative 26, the Personhood Amendment,” Barbour said. “As I’ve previously stated, I voted for the Personhood Amendment. These misleading calls were made without my knowledge, without my permission and against my wishes. I have demanded this deception be stopped, and those responsible have assured me that no more calls will be made.”

Stan Flint, a consultant for MFHF, said Friday the robocalls were meant to run for only one day, but it was unclear how many homes they had reached. He said they wouldn’t be running again. Flint said the governor raised some legitimate concerns in his televised comments and the group wanted to share those concerns with the public.

“We appreciate Gov. Barbour’s honesty about this issue and I think this reflects how torn Mississippians are,” Flint said.