Yesterday afternoon, voters in Mississippi took to the polls to vote on Initiative 26 — aka "the Personhood amendment." The ballot measure proposed to amend the state's constitution to redefine "person" to mean "every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof." If approved, the amendment would have given fertilized eggs the same legal rights and privileges of infants and adult humans, making abortion illegal in the state of Mississippi.
The measure has failed.
The proposal, which was rejected by more than 55 percent of Mississippi voters, was supported in large part by the Christian Action Commission — the lobbying arm of the Mississippi Baptist Convention (the state's largest Christian denomination).
"We mourn with heaven tonight over the loss of Initiative 26, which would have provided the hope of life for thousands of God's unborn babies in Mississippi," said the commission's director, Reverand Jimmy Porter. "Instead the unborn in Mississippi will continue to be led down on a path of destruction to horrible deaths both inside their mothers and in laboratories."
According to the Boston Globe, the bishops of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi and the General Conference of the United Methodist Church opposed the initiative.
Many opponents of the measure had expressed concern over its potential to impact the practice of in vitro fertilization; the use of contraceptive methods, including the morning-after pill and IUD's; and human embryonic stem cell research.
"We're proud that the people of Mississippi looked at the facts and made the decision that this is a dangerous and extreme government intrusion into people's lives," Stan Flint, a consultant to Mississippians for Healthy Families, told Nature news.
Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, echoed Flint's sentiments:
The message from Mississippi is clear...An amendment that allows politicians to further interfere in our personal, private medical decisions, including a woman's right to choose safe, legal abortion, is unacceptable.