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Why Did Anti-Abortion Mississippians Vote Down "Personhood Amendment"?

12:45 AM, Nov 9, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Why Did Anti-Abortion Mississippians Vote Down "Personhood Amendment"?

By a 59 percent to 41 percent margin, Mississippi voters defeated a measure Tuesday that would have amended the state's constitution to hold: "The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." But the defeat should not be taken as a "major setback" for abortion opponents. The amendment did not have the backing of major pro-life groups, such as National Right to Life Committee and Americans United for Life, or major religious institutions, such as Mississippi's Catholic bishopsthe United States Conference of Catholic Bishopsthe Methodist church, and the Episcopal Church.

Mississippi's personhood amendment was counterproductive, imprudent, and ill-defined. Had it passed, it wouldn't have stopped a single abortion and would have merely given the Supreme Court another opportunity to re-affirm Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, Mississippi already has a "trigger law" on the books to ban 99 percent of abortions when Roe v. Wade is overturned. Whereas the "trigger law" makes exceptions for extreme and rare cases when the mother's life is threatened or in the case of rape, the personhood amendment didn't contain any explicit exceptions. 

The state's sitting governor, pro-life Republican Haley Barbour, raised concerns about the measure last week. "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. "Strategically, there’s some national organizations that think this may mess up trying to get more pro-life policies adopted nationally."

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