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South MS clergy speak out against Personhood Amendment

Published: Nov. 7, 2011 at 10:55 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 7, 2011 at 11:08 PM CST
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Those who oppose the Personhood Amendment made an election eve push in Biloxi. On Monday, four religious leaders from Biloxi and Gulfport spoke out against the initiative at a news conference at DeMiller Hall. They told voters that they can be pro-life and still vote 'no' on Initiative 26.

"It's too extreme. Twenty six threatens women's lives," said the Rev. Carol Burnett, a United Methodist Church leader.

Burnett was among the clergy members who spoke out against Initiative 26, which would declare that life begins at fertilization. More than two dozen people attended the news conference held by Mississippians for Healthy Families and the Steps Coalition.

"Twenty six would force victims of rape and incest to carry pregnancies caused by their criminal attackers. Twenty six would make some forms of contraceptives, our best strategy against abortion, illegal," said Burnett.

"This initiative applies chains of bondage to physicians who would hope to act in the best interest of their patients," said the Rev. Lashaundra Smith, a Christian Church-Disciples of Christ leader.

The Rev. Melanie Lemburg told a powerful story about counseling a woman whose special needs daughter was raped and had to terminate her pregnancy.

"If we allow the government to be responsible for these most intimate decisions and issues, then we people of faith are giving away the opportunity to decide what may be the only merciful option in the sea of bad options," said Lemburg, an Episcopal Church leader.

Another religious leader told voters that they have free will and should not let fear affect their decision.

"Nothing should cause us to believe that God is going to come into the booth and strike us down if we vote a certain way," said the Rev. Denise Donnell, a United Methodist Church leader. "I encourage you to be educated, to be faithful, to be strong and courageous as you cast your vote."

"They wanted people to understand that you can be faithful and vote 'no' against Initiative 26," said Ana Maria Rosato, a spokeswoman for Mississippians for Healthy Families. "As long as people continue to feel this way and go to the polls, we hope to be victorious tomorrow."

Others at the news conference agreed, saying that more people will oppose the initiative once they do their research on the issue.

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