Quote# 84169

The most controversial item on the Mississippi ballot this fall is not a politician but rather an idea. In November, Mississippians will vote on an amendment to change the meaning of the word "person" in the state constitution. Under the new language, human life would begin not at birth but at the moment of fertilization. If the amendment passes, it will outlaw abortion in the state entirely, even in cases of rape or incest. It might even leave some forms of contraception, and procedures such as in vitro fertilization, on life support.

Ballot Measure 26, the "Personhood Amendment," has drawn the endorsement of celebrities including Mike Huckabee and Brett Favre's wife, Deanna. The Tupelo-based American Family Association (AFA), one of the nation's leading social-conservative organizations, is teaming up with the Republican gubernatorial nominee, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, to secure its passage. In mid-September, Mississippi's attorney general, Jim Hood, announced his support for the measure.

But for all the momentum it has gained, the amendment is in large part the handiwork of one lesser known figure, an activist named Les Riley. A tractor salesman, former candidate for agriculture commissioner, and chair of the state Constitution Party, Riley is steeped in fringe politics. He founded the group Personhood Mississippi, drafted the amendment's language, started the signature drive that got it on the ballot, and promoted it statewide starting on June 2 with an inflammatory campaign called the "Conceived in Rape Tour."

The idea behind the amendment is simple: If by law life begins at fertilization, then abortion (and human cloning) would become legally impossible. In an interview with the AFA this summer, Riley asserted that his amendment would have "international implications" and could become "the biggest news in the pro-life movement in 20 years." If all goes as planned, it will launch a court challenge that will end with Roe v. Wade itself being overturned.

As radical and grandiose as that may sound, it fits with fringe views from Riley's past. A neo-secessionist, Riley once supported an effort to form an independent theocratic republic in South Carolina, and he belonged to an organization—the League of the South—dedicated to forming a "free Southern Republic" built on biblical law.

Les Riley, Mother Jones 69 Comments [10/6/2011 3:17:49 AM]
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The Wild One, Forever

I really want these lunatics out of my country.

10/6/2011 3:21:39 AM

Doctor Whom

A neo-secessionist, Riley once supported an effort to form an independent theocratic republic in South Carolina, and he belonged to an organization—the League of the South—dedicated to forming a "free Southern Republic" built on biblical law.

Bye-bye. Send us a postcard once you have New Iran up and running.

10/6/2011 3:21:43 AM


Why is this on here? The commenter is not a fundie. He is talking about a fundie.

10/6/2011 3:37:27 AM

D Laurier

Why dont these waffles just come out and admit that they hate women?

10/6/2011 3:54:49 AM

Les Ridley suffers from delusions of adequacy. First, there will be no "international implications" as most of the international community as well as the medicals and scientific community will be pointing and laughing. In fact, should this ballot measure pass, I expect it to be successfully challenged and over turned. What bothers me most about this measure is the implications in the event of miscarriage and other medical complications.

10/6/2011 4:06:58 AM

Yes... please let this pass... and then we can have all those cases of either murder or manslaughter when a pregnant woman miscarries, and we can have cases of murder, manslaughter or attempted murder/manslaughter when the pregnancy puts the Womans life at risk.

Mr Riley, and any twats who support this... fuck of and die in a fire!

10/6/2011 4:09:00 AM


If a fetus is a human being, how come people say "We have two children and one on the way" instead of saying "We have three children?" People say life begins at conception. I say life began about a billion years ago and it's a continuous process. Continuous, just keeps rolling along.
-George Carlin

10/6/2011 4:15:34 AM

Benjamin Geiger

"I don't want to live on this planet anymore." -- Professor Farnsworth

10/6/2011 4:18:10 AM


"Why is this on here? The commenter is not a fundie. He is talking about a fundie."

And what exactly is the problem with that? This makes you something of a "quote fundy".

It's rather unfortunate that these fundy politicians are springing up all over the US these days, gaining momentum by the day it seems. It would appear to me that Barack HUSSEINNNNNNN Obama has stirred up such a strong opposition among whi... I mean Christians and Conservatives that he has probably accidentally pushed America back by trying to make an advance towards a fairer secular society.

10/6/2011 4:20:34 AM

Percy Q. Shunn

Ah, America; The Land That Time Forgot.

10/6/2011 4:29:50 AM


In all honesty, people will just leave Mississippi and go and live in another state.

10/6/2011 4:29:58 AM


Could be a nice living to be had running morning-after pills into MS if this passes ...

10/6/2011 4:31:13 AM


Just wow, why start at contraception why not say all eggs and sperm are living creatures too that must be protected and put ever guy who jacks off and ever woman who goes through a menstrual cycle without getting pregnant in jail. Your religious views on when life starts should not be placed on everyone else not of the same religion or even mind set as you.

10/6/2011 4:45:04 AM


@The Wild One, Forever: Support his bid for a "free Southern Republic" and you'll never need to hear from these assholes again.

10/6/2011 4:54:32 AM

N. De Plume

So… How do they expect to resolve this with the current federal rulings on the issue?

10/6/2011 4:56:35 AM


State Education Rankings: The Best And Worst For Math And Science:

Mississippi, so bad it's off the motherfucking chart!

10/6/2011 5:09:22 AM

Mister Spak

Americans in Missippi should push the fact that this law will outlaw birth control pills. That by itself will blast this amendment back into the outer space it came from.

10/6/2011 5:12:08 AM


To anyone still on the fence about the hypocrisy about these people, does this make it clear yet?

Their whole argument against gay marriage is that we can't change the meaning of words. They claim it's something Orwellian and sinister, representative of the march of totalitarian government. Hell, any change in meaning in that particular case is minimal at best, extending only the types of relationships to which the term can be applied.

And then, when it suits their interests, in an act of Orwellian doublethink they go and do the exact same thing. The main difference, of course, being that they are trying to change the meaning of the word "person" entirely. That's not a small thing. It's breathtaking how these people operate.

Should this pass, it's going to be tough to be a pregnant woman in Mississippi. I mean, if a bunch of cells are a person at fertilization, ANYTHING that could effect its life is going to be seen as criminal neglect in the eyes of the law. Ponder that for a moment and what the ramifications are.

If this passes it will be the biggest setback for women's rights in our lifetime.

10/6/2011 5:13:20 AM


This is some seriously scary shit, and I don't count on the voters of Mississippi to not approve of it. Hopefully, the amendment will remain unenforceable as Roe v. Wade has yet to be overturned, and once this amendment is challenged in court, it'll be struck down so fast that hopefully it'll discourage this nut from pulling any suchlike bullshit anywhere else. Still, it scares the shit out of me that lunatics like this guy can just get anything put on the ballot with enough signatures from like-minded lunatics, and it seems that there's never a dearth of lunatics in the United States to gather signatures from.

10/6/2011 6:03:49 AM


I kind of want you to set up your own damn country, just to see it fall and burn under terrible mismanagement and rebellions.

10/6/2011 6:04:22 AM

Ken is pro-humanity-for-women

Mississippi is also the most obese state. Go you, Mississippi!

10/6/2011 6:11:13 AM


GTFO of my country. NOW!

10/6/2011 6:28:20 AM

Raised by Horses

Why not just declare sperm to be "persons" while you're at it?

Hmmm.. Guess that would make any attempt at procreation mass murder. Seriously, though. If you want to live in Dumbfuckistan, just secede already. We're not gonna stop you.

10/6/2011 6:50:03 AM


Hello, back-alley coathanger, it's been a while.

We have at least two great examples of modern theocracies: Afghanistan and Somalia. They call them failed states for a reason.

10/6/2011 7:14:57 AM


I wish the secessionists would stop making promises they can't keep. Also, why do these hypocrites have such a love affair with big government?

10/6/2011 7:15:11 AM

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