Voters in Mississippi will decide Tuesday whether a fertilized human egg should be recognized as a person under the state constitution, an anti-abortion strategy that a group of Christian conservatives hopes to mimic in Florida.
The “personhood” amendment would define a human being “from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof.”
If it passes in Mississippi — a poll released Sunday found that 45 percent of voters supported the amendment, while 44 percent opposed it — the amendment could lead to the banning of all abortions in the state as well as some forms of birth control.
Personhood USA, the Colorado group behind the Mississippi ballot question, has been collecting petition signatures to bring a similar proposal to Florida.
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But Florida election laws already have dashed the hopes of the group to have the measure appear on a statewide ballot next year.
The group needs 676,811 petition signatures in Florida — 8 percent of votes cast during the 2008 presidential election — to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.
And those petitions must be certified by local elections supervisors and turned into the Secretary of State by Feb. 1.
Personhood Florida state coordinator Brenda MacMenamin said the group has so far gathered only about 20,000 petition signatures. (Those signatures also will soon become worthless because of changes in state law requiring all petitions to be gathered within two years.)
MacMenamin said Monday that petition gatherers will start over next year in hopes of making the 2014 ballot.
“We have built a network across the state at this point,” she said, “so it really is hitting critical mass.”
The personhood movement frames its case as the “most important civil rights struggle of our age” on its website, equating it with the Supreme Court’s ruling against Missouri slave Dred Scott that deemed him property.
“That’s basically what Roe v. Wade says about the pre-born,” said MacMenamin, 51, a stay-at-home mother from Port St. Lucie.
The national organization’s goal is to enact a constitutional amendment that would invalidate the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.
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