Mississippi voters reject anti-abortion measure for fetus personhood

By Reuters Staff
November 9, 2011

(Personhood NOW banner flies in front of the United States Supreme Court during the 2009 March for Life in Washington, 22 January 2009/Brochureman)

Mississippi voters on Tuesday rejected an amendment to the state constitution aimed at outlawing abortion, a setback for abortion opponents seeking to overturn the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States.

With 85 percent of the precincts reporting, 58 percent of voters had voted against the measure and 42 percent had voted for it, according to the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, the state capital.

Had the so-called “personhood amendment” passed, Mississippi would have been the first U.S. state to define a fertilized egg as a legal person. The measure would have banned abortion without exceptions for rape or incest victims. It also would have outlawed some types of birth control and infertility methods resulting in the loss of embryos.

In a year that has seen a number of states approve abortion restrictions, the Mississippi defeat is a blow to those pushing to get the issue on more state ballots next year.

Similar measures failed in Colorado in 2008 and 2010.

Proponents of the measure, who ultimately seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, said they were disappointed but would not give up.

“I am ready to go again,” Personhood USA founder Keith Mason said in Jackson. “We have been a voice for the voiceless, and I’m proud of Mississippi.”

Critics of the measure, who argued it could have criminalized routine medical care and endangered women’s lives, applauded voters for derailing it.

“I am proud of the people in Mississippi for making a thoughtful decision on this issue,” said Shelley Abrams, executive director of the state’s only abortion clinic.

Read the full story by Verna Gates here.

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