“Personhood” measure fails in Mississippi

Voters in Mississippi struck down the controversial “personhood” ballot initiative Nov. 8, which would have effectively banned abortion in all cases including incest and rape, among other forms of birth control.

Initiative 26 would have amended the state constitution to define “personhood” at the moment an egg is fertilized, making it illegal to harm or prohibit the implantation of that egg. This would include some forms of birth control — such as the IUD —that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a women’s uterus, and fertility treatments that involve implanting fertilized eggs in hopes of creating a pregnancy.

The amendment was defeated 58 percent to 42 percent by the end of the day, coming as a surprise to many who believed the measure would pass in one of the nation’s most conservative and religious states.

“Even in a conservative state, tonight’s vote reaffirms that people do not want government intruding in personal decisions best made by a woman, her family and her doctor,” the ACLU’s Jennifer Dalven said in a prepared statement Tuesday night.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declined to endorse the measure, calling it too ambiguous.

If passed, the measure would have faced federal opposition in light of the long-standing Roe v. Wade case.

Similar attempts at banning abortion by declaring early “personhood” were defeated in Colorado in both 2008 and 2010, but a handful of states are planning on putting this issue on their ballots in the next election cycle.

“This is the third time an amendment like this has failed. Legislators around the country should listen to the voters of Mississippi and stop playing politics with women’s health,” Davlen said.