May 13, 2014 — Abortion-rights opponents in Mississippi are nearing a deadline to submit signatures for a proposed ballot initiative that would amend the state constitution to define life as beginning at fertilization, the AP/Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald reports.
The initiative is "nearly identical" to one from 2011 that was defeated by 58% of state voters, according to the AP/Sun Herald.
The initiative's backers have until Wednesday to submit enough signatures to place the measure on the November 2015 ballot. The organizers had one year to gather at least 107,216 signatures from registered voters, including an equal number from each of the state's five congressional districts that were used until 2000. The measure will fail if they do not submit the signatures by the deadline.
According to an Associated Press survey on Friday of circuit clerks in 12 of the state's largest counties, workers in the clerks' offices have not yet received any petitions on which to begin verifying signatures.
Opponents of the initiative say it is unnecessary because state residents already have spoken on the issue.
Meanwhile, supporters say the 2011 measure failed because people misunderstood how the amendment would have affected in-vitro fertilization and contraception (Wagster Pettus, AP/Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald, 5/11).