MSNBC Contributor Compares Miss. Personhood Amendment to Jim Crow-Era Abuses

Appearing on the 11 a.m. Eastern hour of MSNBC Live today, Nation magazine columnist and MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry cynically invoked the legacy of Jim Crow laws to blast a proposed constitutional amendment in Mississippi that would extend due process protections to unborn children.


"Look, Mississippi has a very long and extremely appalling history of intervening in women's reproductive rights," the Tulane professor complained to anchor Thomas Roberts, noting "the story of Fannie Lou Hamer.... She and many, many other poor African-American women during the era of Jim Crow were given what came to be called 'Mississippi appendectomies,' literally going in either for childbirth or for other minor procedures and having their uteruses removed through hysterectomies that they had not consented to."

 "Now this [Initiative 26] is on the other side of that, what's happening now is Mississippi once again making a choice as a state, as a government to intervene in the reproductive life choices of women and of families, in ways that will undoubtedly have dramatic and negative impact on women's health," Harris-Perry argued.

For his part, anchor Thomas Roberts failed to criticize Harris-Perry for invoking the specter of the Jim Crow era, nor for hinting that the measure is being imposed top-down on the electorate, when in fact it goes to the voting booth because, according to Ballotpedia, the measure garnered "106,325 signatures [from registered voters], exceeding the minimum requirement of 89,285 signatures to qualify for the ballot."

In a state that is 37 percent black by population, it's quite likely a significant portion of those signatures were from African-American voters.

Working in another common MSNBC meme -- that conservatives are anti-science -- Harris-Perry argued that Initiative 26 is "scientifically, completely false" since it "declares that a fertilized egg is a person."

Initiative 26 "just asserts something that is medically and scientifically untrue," Harris-Perry groused, confusing the legal question of personhood with the biological fact that a fertilized human egg is, biologically speaking, a living human being, albeit in its earliest developmental stage.

As is standard operating procedure for MSNBC, Roberts failed to bring on a guest to counter Harris-Perry's arguments with a defense of the proposed amendment. What's more, the MSNBC daytime anchor urged viewers to "read more of Melissa's thoughts on this" at the Nation's website as well as to tune in tomorrow when Roberts plans to interview "one of five doctors in Mississippi who performs in vitro fertilization," a practice which could be curtailed in the Magnolia State should the amendment be voted into law on November 8.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters