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It’s easier to make black-and-white moral decisions, especially on a thorny issues like abortion, than it is to consider shades of gray, but that doesn’t mean the easy decisions are the right ones. In his latest column, “Mississippi Makes A Statement on Moral Clarity,” Leonard Pitts Jr. argues:

So last week’s election result in Mississippi comes as a seismic shock. By a significant margin — 58 percent to 42 percent — voters rejected an anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution defining the fertilized human egg as a person, with all the rights and protections attendant thereto.

That bears repeating. Mississippi, after all, is the Deep South of the Deep South, ranked the most conservative state in the union in a 2011 Gallup poll. Yet, given a chance to essentially outlaw abortion and set up a Roe v. Wade showdown in the Supreme Court, the state said an emphatic no.

Granted, this came in the context of voters around the country rejecting a number of conservatism’s more extreme ideas, including the defeat of an Ohio measure limiting the collective bargaining rights of public workers. Still, the Mississippi vote stands out. Opponents argued — and voters apparently agreed — that conferring personhood upon a fertilized egg would have far-reaching implications, affecting not only a woman’s right to an abortion but also her right to use birth control, get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, or receive treatment in the event of pregnancy complications.

And yet, isn’t that exactly what anti-abortion forces have always argued, life begins at conception? It is telling that, given a chance to enshrine that belief into law (and confront all the new moral conundrums that would entail), Mississippi rejected it instead.

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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