The so-called “personhood amendment” that aims to criminalize abortion by granting rights to unborn fetuses, was rejected by the voters of Mississippi with more than 55% against according to official results.
The vote has pressed the heated issue of abortion to the frontline ahead of the 2012 general elections. Initiative 26 would have recognized embryos in the Bible Belt as “people with full rights and protection under the law” including making abortion illegal and forbidding certain forms of birth control measures, according to AFP — an amendment which would even override cases of rape, incest and medical situations where the pregnant woman would be at risk.
The organization behind the legislation, Personhood USA, is based in Colorado and have been pushing for their initiative to be on the 2012 ballot for Florida, Montana, Ohio, Nevada and California, wrote NPR.org. One of the co-founders, Keith Mason, commented on the groups failure on Tuesday: “ It’s not because the people are not pro-life. It’s because Planned Parenthood put a lot of misconceptions and lies in front of folks and created a lot of confusion.”
Meanwhile, the president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup has called ’26’ an “extreme, dangerous and direct assault” on abortion rights. AFP reports that the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy has been law in the US since the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade.
One supporter, Regina Madison, told reporters outside the Jackson polling station “This is the first step for a national fight: abortion would not be legal in this country.”
In a statement by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, they said:
Mississippi voters rejected the so-called ‘personhood’ amendment because they understood it is government gone too far, and would have allowed government to have control over personal decisions that should be left up to a woman, her family, her doctor and her faith, including keeping a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy from getting the care she needs, and criminalizing everything from abortion to common forms of birth control such as the pill and the IUD.
Felicia Brown-Williams from the Mississippi for Healthy Families Campaign told the CNN, “I think voters rejected a measure they understood to be dangerous [...] They really tried to manipulate values around faith and family.”
Despite the rejection, the supporters of Personhood USA are adamant to continue their cause. “We accomplished our mission to be a voice for the voiceless who have no one else speaking for them,” said Mason to CNN. “I want to make a commitment that we will stand with Mississippi until all humans are treated as persons.”