Miss. Abortion-Rights Opponents File New 'Personhood' Ballot Initiative

March 7, 2013 — Abortion-rights opponents in Mississippi on Tuesday filed paperwork for a "personhood" ballot initiative with different wording than a similar measure that was defeated in 2011, the AP/Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports.

The new proposal states, "The right to life begins at conception. All human beings, at every stage of development, are unique, created in God's image and shall have equal rights as persons under the law."

The 2011 initiative asked, "Should the term 'person' be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof?"

Opponents said the new measure could ban abortions, outlaw some forms of contraception and interfere with in vitro fertilization practices. Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, in a release said, "Mississippi voters have already spoken: Health care decisions should be left to a woman, her family, her doctor, and her faith -- not politicians."

Les Riley of Personhood Mississippi said voters "spoke and said they were confused. They didn't understand the last amendment."

After the state attorney general creates a ballot title and summary for the new initiative, the measure's sponsors will have one year to try to collect the 107,216 signatures required to put it on the ballot in November 2014 or November 2015 (AP/Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 3/5).