Salon’s Irin Carmon Wins November Sidney Award for Coverage of “Personhood” Amendment

By: Press Release | Sidney Hillman Foundation

NEW YORK: The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today that Salon’s Irin Carmon has won the November Sidney Award for “The Next Front in the Abortion Wars: Birth Control.”

Today, November 8th, Mississippians are voting on an initiative to amend the state’s constitution to redefine a fertilized egg as a person. The gubernatorial candidates of both major parties have endorsed the measure. Similar ballot initiatives have been tried in other states, but this is the first time such a measure has a chance of passing.

Proponents of Initiative 26 frame the debate as an abortion issue; the amendment would ban all abortions in Mississippi, without exceptions for rape or incest. However, Carmon’s reporting in Mississippi revealed that the agenda of the “Personhood movement” is even broader.

Initiative 26 would also ban any form of birth control that destroys a fertilized egg. Carmon found the leading proponents of Initiative 26 to be, at best, confused and at worst, evasive about the birth control implications of the measure. She also reported that Initiative 26 could have national implications, and could lead to a challenge against Roe v. Wade.

“The problem is that what the medical community and you and I call “birth control,” some of them want to call “abortion.” The Personhood movement hasn’t gotten its message straight on this quite yet – partly because it’s easier to yoke together a coalition against abortion, partly because some people are fuzzy on the biology,” Carmon told Lindsay Beyerstein for The Backstory, the Sidney Hillman Foundation’s behind-the-scenes interview with the monthly Sidney winner. Carmon discusses what it was like reporting this piece in Mississippi, the movement to oppose Initiative 26, and what its passing would mean for Mississippi.

Carmon is a staff writer at Salon. Previously, she was a staff writer at Gawker Media’s Jezebel.com, and has written for BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Tablet, The Boston Globe, The Jerusalem Post, The Village Voice, the New York Times, and other publications.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation honors excellence in journalism in service of the common good. Judges are Rose Arce, Hendrik Hertzberg, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Harold Meyerson, Susan Meiselas, and Lindsay Beyerstein.

The Sidney Award is given once a month to an outstanding piece of socially-conscious journalism, by the Sidney Hillman Foundation, which also awards the annual Hillman Prizes every spring. Winners of the Sidney receive a certificate, a $500 honorarium and a bottle of union-made wine. 

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