POLITICS
11/03/2011 05:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Haley Barbour Took Money From Makers Of Abortion Pill, Says Personhood Campaign

Haley Barbour, the conservative, pro-life governor of Mississippi, surprised and infuriated supporters of the state's anti-abortion "personhood" initiative on Wednesday when he told MSNBC's Chuck Todd that he might be voting against it. The Personhood USA campaign retaliated on Thursday by pointing out that Barbour took campaign contributions from Monsanto and Pfizer -- pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the abortion pill.

"We thought it was really strange that he would oppose this measure, since we have the support of nearly every other politician in the state, both Democrat and Republican. So we did a little digging," Jennifer Mason, spokesperson for Personhood USA, told HuffPost. "We discovered that he has received campaign contributions from the makers of the abortion pill as recently as 2007."

Pfizer makes Misoprostol tablets, one of the two pills taken to end early pregnancy, which would be banned if Mississippi voters pass the personhood amendment at the ballots next week. According to a campaign contributions database, Pfizer contributed $7,000 to Barbour's reelection campaign in 2006 and Monsanto, Pfizer's parent company, contributed $1,000.

Barbour's office did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

Barbour told Chuck Todd he had concerns about the initiative's ambiguity, but also about its ramifications for women's health.

The Mississippi personhood amendment would redefine a person in the constitution as "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof," and opponents say it could outlaw certain forms of birth control, in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and abortions, even in cases where the woman's life is in danger.

"I believe life begins at conception," Barbour said. "Unfortunately, this personhood amendment doesn’t say that. It says life begins at fertilization, or cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof. That ambiguity is striking a lot of pro-life people here as concerning. And I’m talking about people that are very, outspokenly pro-life."

"I am concerned about some of the ramifications on in vitro fertilization and [ectopic] pregnancies where pregnancies [occur] outside the uterus and [in] the fallopian tubes," he continued. "That concerns me, I have to just say it."

When asked whether he would vote for the amendment, Barbour said he hasn't decided.

Despite their annoyance over Barbour's comments, Personhood USA says they don't really need his support to pass the initiative. Both gubernatorial candidates support the personhood amendment, both candidates for state attorney general support it, almost all Republican lawmakers support it and the vast majority of Democrats in the state have either come out in support of it or remained silent.

"We are expecting it to pass," Mason said.

But Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, the staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, says she thinks Barbour's comments reflect growing concern among Mississippi voters over the potential legal consequences of the amendment.

"I think more and more people are realizing the true consequences and the unintended consequences this initiative could have," Kolbi-Molinas said. "The word 'person' appears in so many thousands of laws. To try to figure out what it would mean to impose this standard definition that always includes an egg, embryo and fetus, it could have consequences we couldn't even speculate about."

CORRECTION: Although Monsanto and Pfizer have closely intertwined histories, Monsanto is not Pfizer's parent company.

WATCH Barbour's interview: