Progress Florida, a progressive nonprofit group, has issued an email to its supporters, asking them to partake in a letter-writing campaign to Gov.-elect Rick Scott regarding a proposed amendment that “would give a fertilized egg the legal rights of a living person.”
The amendment is called the “Florida Personhood Amendment” and, according to the state’s election website, would define all human beings as “persons under the constitution regardless of age, race, health function, condition of physical and/or mental dependency and/or disability.”
The amendment is sponsored by Personhood Florida, a group whose mottos include “to enjoy and defend life” and “justice for all human beings cannot wait.” According to its website, Personhood Florida has been endorsed by state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and former U.S. Sen. Robert Smith, R-N.H.
According to a 2009 article by the Sun-Sentinel, supporters are pushing similar amendments in states other than Florida in an attempt to undermine Roe v. Wade.
Personhood Florida needs 676,811 signatures for the initiative to make its way onto the 2012 ballot. According to the Florida election site, it currently has zero. Similar ballot initiatives have appeared in several states including Alaska, California, Colorado and Michigan, where it failed to make its way to the 2010 ballot, but was introduced to the state legislature.
Personhood Florida acts under the umbrella of Personhood USA, which links to a petition for the Florida ballot initiative on its site. The site also claims that the women’s suffrage movement is a “blueprint” for the personhood movement, a claim pro-choice activisits would likely dispute.
According to a release from Progress Florida, the proposed Amendment would be detrimental to the pro-choice movement and, if passed, could even outlaw birth control in the state:
Such a radical amendment would unleash a Pandora’s Box of cruel and unnecessary consequences for all of Florida’s families. It would outlaw all abortions, even in the horrific cases of rape and incest. It could also outlaw commonly used forms of birth control, including The Pill and emergency contraception. It could prohibit women from seeking medical care if the treatment might endanger a fertilized egg. The overly broad and misleading language of such an amendment would be an open invitation to lawyers, politicians, and the courts to interfere with decisions that should be made between a woman, her family, and her doctor.
Just how crazy and extreme is this proposed amendment? The Eagle Forum, led by conservative anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly called the idea a “disaster.” Florida’s Catholic Bishops have also banned outright the collection of petitions for this amendment at their churches.
But that won’t stop these radical anti-women activists. This kind of amendment has been put on multiple state ballots before, it’s already on Mississippi’s ballot next year, and it could be on ours in 2012.
The release urges those opposed to the amendment to sign a letter to Gov.-elect Scott “demanding to know whether or not he supports this extreme amendment.”