Mississippi voters on Tuesday rejected an amendment to their state constitution that would have declared that life begins at fertilization.
The result was somewhat unexpected: As recently as a few weeks ago, the so-called personhood amendment was considered almost certain to pass. Voters in Colorado have twice rejected similar amendments to declare that life begins legally at fertilization, in 2008 and 2010. But Mississippi, with its far more conservative bent, was considered much friendlier territory.
Even though the decision was widely expected, there's no denying the news is still a pretty big deal. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services adopted in full the women's health recommendations issued two weeks ago by the independent Institute of Medicine.
The latest battle is set to come to a head Wednesday, when the independent Institute of Medicine is expected to make recommendations about preventive health care services for women. And one service that's drawing a lot of the attentions is contraception.
Last year's GOP takeover of the U.S. House and statehouses across the country has dramatically changed the shape of the nation's abortion debate. It has also given a boost to an even more far-reaching effort: the push to legally redefine when life itself begins.
The question being raised in legal terms is: When does someone become a person?