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Mississippi's Personhood Amendment: Over Half of Voters Rejected Anti-Abortion Initiative

Mississippi’s controversial “Personhood Amendment” failed at the polls Tuesday evening.

The ballot initiative would stunt abortion rights in Mississippi by declaring life begins at fertilization, stating: “Every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.”

Although it maintained a following weeks ago, more than 55 percent of voters rejected the initiative yesterday that would effectively outlaw abortion in Mississippi.

The initiative would have given Mississippi the strictest abortion laws in the entire country.

As Reuters contends, declaring a fertilized egg a “person” would have a “domino effect” that could reverberate into other states, causing a sweeping constitutional amendment.

If passed, pro-choicers worried the amendment could challenge the Roe vs. Wade case, which legalized abortion.

When Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973, Justice Potter Stewart addressed the controversial and longstanding “personhood” argument: “If it were established that an unborn fetus is a person, you would have an impossible case here.”

If passed, the “personhood” initiative could have subsequently outlawed some forms of birth control in Mississippi, including oral contraception and the morning after pill.

The ballot initiative also conflicted with in-vitro fertilization. Critics argued that if the initiative passed, physicians would be unwilling to perform in-vitro fertilization for fear of malpractice charges, should the embryo not survive.

The initiative would not permit women of rape or incest to have an abortion. Critics argued that birthing a product of rape and incest could be more psychologically damaging than an abortion.

Before Tuesday's results, Mississippi voters were neck in neck concerning the issue, as 45 percent of voters supported the amendment, 44 opposed it, and 11 percent were undecided.

Democrat candidate Johnny Dupree and Republican candidate Phil Bryant, who both ran for Mississippi’s governor, announced their support of the amendment.

Before the vote, president of pro-life organization Personhood USA, Keith Mason, expressed his confidence in the amendment.

 "“[…] The abortion era is almost over, but our message that every human being is a person, and every person has a right to live, will not be silenced,” said Mason in September.

The initiative also received massive backing from religious organizations and the public alike. On voting day, pro-life advocates staked the voting stations, waving signs that read, "Vote for life."

Many predict this is just the beginning of a powerful movement to outlaw abortion in America.

"Expect one thousand Amendment 26's in the future," wrote the Washington Post, calling the initiative and others like it a "win-win for social conservatives."

Construction worker Hubert Hoover, 71, told CBS he wholeheartedly supported the proposed amendment.

"I figure you can't be half for something, so if you're against abortion you should be for this. You've either got to be wholly for something or wholly against it," he said.

Mississippi, considered one of the most conservative states, already advocates stringent antiabortion policies. As CBS contends, only one facility in the entire state performs abortions.

The state’s additional strict abortion laws include parental consent for a minor and mandatory in-person counseling post-abortion.

This is not the only conservative antiabortion law to be recently denied. In August, a Texas judge temporarily blocked an abortion law that would require a pregnant woman to receive a sonogram and listen to the heart beat of her fetus before choosing to abort.

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