The War on Women You Haven't Heard of

Anti-choice extremists never take their eye off the prize: making abortion illegal in the United States.

Right now, they have their sights set on Mississippi. This Tuesday, Mississippians will go to the polls and vote on Initiative 26, a so-called "personhood" ballot measure.

By defining "personhood" from the beginning of fertilization, these measures are designed to outlaw abortion care. Initiative 26 is so extreme that were it to pass and go into effect, it would ban abortion care without exception: even in cases of rape or incest, and even when a woman's life or health is in danger.

Backers of the ballot measure also admit that it is so broad that it could outlaw some of the most common methods of birth control. Think about the birth-control pill and IUD becoming illegal if this measure goes into effect.

Even Haley Barbour, Mississippi's anti-choice governor, expressed concerns about the ramifications Initiative 26 would have on in-vitro fertilization and treatment for women with ectopic pregnancies. Although he eventually voted for the measure, Gov. Barbour raised important questions that no one will forget.

It's making headlines in the presidential race, as former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) recently endorsed the concept of a constitutional ban on abortion care that's based on the "personhood" model.

What's happening in Mississippi is not just about Mississippi. We are already tracking multiple anti-choice ballot measures throughout the country. It's the War on Women you might not have heard of yet.

The anti-choice groups behind Initiative 26 are pushing similar ballot measures for 2012 in Florida, Ohio, Montana, and Nevada.

In 2012, Montana voters will face a parental-involvement measure that jeopardizes the health and safety of young women who, for fear of violence or in cases of incest, cannot turn to their parents.

In California, anti-choice forces are collecting signatures for ballot measures that also would impose a dangerous parental-involvement mandate and mandatory 48-hour delay on young women who seek abortion care.

And in Massachusetts, anti-choice groups are pushing for a voter referendum that would ban insurance coverage of abortion care.

Our nation's pro-choice majority must respond with force and determination whenever and wherever these attacks arise.

In fact, voters have already beaten back some of these extreme ballot initiatives.

Colorado voters twice defeated "personhood" measures in their state by resounding margins.

Voters in California and Oregon rejected dangerous parental-involvement mandates. Californians have said no three times: in 2005, 2006, and 2008.

At the same time, we have seen some setbacks: Alaska voters approved a parental-involvement mandate in 2010 that puts young women's health and safety at risk.

The lesson here is that voting matters -- not just for the right candidates, but voting against dangerous ballot measures, too. These measures restrict women's freedom and privacy just as much as any anti-choice politician can.

My challenge to you is to bring up what's happening in Mississippi and across the country with your friends -- including people with whom you've never discussed abortion. Starting the conversation is the first step in helping connect the personal with the political. If they value women's freedom and privacy, then they have to speak out against measures like the one in Mississippi.

Remember, an attack on a woman's right to choose in one state is an attack on a woman's right to choose everywhere.