By Nancy Kohsin-Kintigh

I have worked to protect the rights of women across the country for nearly 20 years.  As an organizer for a national women’s rights organization, I traveled around the country working beside activists to prevent anti-abortion extremists from shutting down abortion clinics with their rhetoric, their bodies, and sometimes their bullets.

I have been outside hundreds of clinics watching extremists spew hate and judgment on women and their families entering these facilities while holding a Bible to justify it.  I have seen parents with up to a dozen children ranging from newborn to teens standing in 100-plus degree weather for eight hours holding signs (that most of them couldn’t even read or understand) in an attempt to intimidate or shame women from getting an abortion.  I have worked with federal, state, and local law enforcement in an effort just to get existing laws enforced at clinics which are legal businesses and more importantly – healthcare facilities.  I have taught doctors, nurses, and receptionists how to protect themselves and their children from harassment in their homes, in their children’s schools, and at the healthcare facilities.

In all these years of working tirelessly with loving caring human beings who risk their lives every day to provide safe, legal, and sometimes medically necessary healthcare to women – nothing would stop the bullet that killed my friend and someone I admired – Dr. George Tiller.  He was killed while attending service at his church.

Today, we are seeing a different kind of “bullet” aimed at the heart of women.  This past legislative session was frightening for those of us who fight to defend the dignity of women across this country.  We are still making 77 cents for every dollar a man makes and we face assaults on our fundamental rights to control our own bodies.  We watch legislators in our states and in DC spew vitriol about us in an attempt to legislate our womb and our ability to access services.  While the men hold these great debates about us, we are getting breakfast for our kids, heading off to our second job, meeting with our children’s teachers, and caring for our aging parents while trying to scrape up enough money for the rent that is due in a few days.

Mississippi extremists want to take away the right to abortion and birth control by passing the “so called” Personhood Ballot Initiative #26.  It is dangerous and is an all out assault on women and their families. If passed, this amendment would not only ban abortion but also birth control and many assisted reproductive healthcare procedures which include in-vitro fertilization.  The initiative will insert government control over our wombs, our ability to choose when and how many children we have, and we will be criminally investigated when we have a miscarriage.

I still have nightmares about my friend being murdered.  I see the bullet exit the weapon in slow motion and I dream that I put my hand up and stop it.  Initiative #26 is a bullet.  The bullet is moving slowly through the air in Mississippi.  This time, I am putting my whole body up to stop it.  Will you?

Don’t allow this initiative to pass.  Individuals across the state are banding together and getting out there to educate voters on the broad and sweeping implications of Initiative #26 if passed.  Organizations are educating their members and mobilizing to the streets.  Even if you oppose abortion, this “bullet” will explode into a million pieces and it WILL hit you too.  Get out there and talk to your friends, family, church, and civic organizations.  Make a case for stopping the bullet.  On November 8, use your hand to stop the bullet and vote NO on Initiative #26.  If you sleep in on November 8, you might just wake up to a nightmare.