Mississippi ‘Personhood’ Amendment Referendum Fails, But Its Supporters to Keep Fighting

Mississippi voters turned down a referendum that might have effectively banned abortions in the state, rejecting an initiative that said life begins at conception.

This law could have banned in-vitro fertilization as well as birth control methods such as the morning-after pill or intrauterine devices. Photo: tianitinocophoto/ Flickr

So-called the Personhood Amendment, officially known as Initiative 26, was rejected by 55 percent of voters, falling far short of the threshold needed for it to be enacted. If it had passed, it was virtually assured of drawing legal challenges because it conflicts with the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion.

This law could have banned in-vitro fertilization as well as birth control methods such as the morning-after pill or intrauterine devices.

Supporters were trying to thrust their religious beliefs by forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies, including those caused by rape or incest.

“Today’s vote is a huge victory for anyone concerned about protecting our constitutional rights against erosion. And it sends an unequivocal message to proponents of these measures — that the American people, no matter the political perspective, will not stand for such blatant attacks on the health and constitutionally protected rights of women in this country,” said Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Amy Brunson, a 36-year-old dog trainer and theater production assistant from Jackson, voted against the abortions, because she has been raped. She also has friends and family that had children through in vitro fertilization and she was worried the acceptance of the law would have ended that process.

“The lines are so unclear on what may or may not happen. I think there are circumstances beyond everybody’s control that can’t be regulated through an amendment,” said Brunson.

Hubert Hoover, 71, a cabinet maker who lives in a Jackson suburb, voted for the suggested amendment.

“I figure you can’t be half for something, so if you’re against abortion you should be for this. You’ve either got to be wholly for something or wholly against it,” said Hoover.

The amendment was proposed by Personhood USA, a Colorado-based group that has been driving similar legislative efforts for years. Voters in Colorado had also rejected similar ballot initiatives in 2008 and 2010.

Barbour, a former 2012 presidential candidate (he ruled out a run this year), said a week ago that he was undecided. But, a day later, he voted absentee for the proposal, but said he struggled with his support.

“Some very strongly pro-life people have raised questions about the ambiguity and about the actual consequences — whether there are unforeseen, unintended consequences. And I’ll have to say that I have heard those concerns and they give me some pause,” Barbour said.

Barbour was prevented from seeking re-election because he was out of term limits. The Democrat and Republican candidates who were to replace him both supported the abortion measure.

However, amendment’s supporters are not going to give up. Keith Mason, the group’s co-founder, said that he intends to try again passing Personhood legislation or ballot initiative in Mississippi. Personhood USA is also fighting to land similar initiatives on 2012 ballots in Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada and California.

“We accomplished our mission to be a voice for the voiceless who have no one else speaking for them,” said Mason. “I want to make a commitment that we will stand with Mississippi until all humans are treated as persons.” [Via Huff Post and IB Times]

Share this article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.