Despite the sound defeat of its ballot initiative last November, Mississippi ‘Fetal Personhood’ proponents are now reviving their efforts to outlaw abortions.
Last week, members of Personhood Mississippi and Pro-Life Mississippi rallied at the state capitol alongside 25 empty baby strollers, meant to represent the number of abortions that they say occur each afternoon at Mississippi’s only abortion clinic.
Supporters of Mississippi Personhood are hoping for a more successful push than the one they headlined last year. The groups’ Amendment 26, also known as the Personhood Amendment, failed to garner enough votes to pass in the state in November 2011. The personhood amendment, if passed, would have defined life from the moment of conception — which could not only ban abortion but could have negative effects on in vitro fertilization, intrauterine devices, and birth control.
Critics have charged the personhood movement goes too far, but support for the measures has been growing. In a recent interview with the Florida Independent, the head of Personhood Florida attributed much of his group’s growth to Mississippi’s failed personhood measure.
“There has definitely been a big change,” said Pastor Bryan Longworth. “We have probably quadrupled the number of volunteers we have in the state right now. We have volunteers actively calling pro-lifers, churches, collecting signatures…that has all come about as a result of the publicity surrounding Mississippi. Even though it wasn’t successful, it still had a tremendous role in raising awareness of Personhood.”
But with the growing support of anti-abortion measures comes growing support from the pro-choice movement.
Four anti-abortion resolutions were introduced in the Mississippi legislature this session, but each died in committee – similar to the situation in Florida, where the 2012 legislative session recently ended, without the passage of a single anti-abortion bill (ten were introduced.)
Despite a lack of legislative support, Personhood Florida is already campaigning for a personhood measure on the state’s 2014 ballot and will soon launch an “automated, direct-mail, robo-call type of campaign” – according to Longworth – to drum up publicity for their efforts.