The Florida Secretary of State's office approved ballot language this week for a so-called personhood initiative proposed by Personhood Florida and the American Life League. The ballot measure would amend the state constitution to say that "The word 'person' and 'natural person' apply to all human beings, irrespective of age, race, health, function, condition of physical and/or mental dependency and/or disability, or method of reproduction, from the beginning of biological development of that human being."
According to the Sun Sentinel, the amendment seeks to outlaw all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, and criminalizes most forms of birth control as well as emergency contraceptives. The amendment runs counter to Roe v Wade (1973), as well as Griswold v Connecticut (1965), the case that ruled contraceptive use by married couples are protected by the constitution's right to privacy.
In order to be certified for the 2010 ballot, supporters of the measure must gather over 675,000 valid signatures by February 2010. If the measure is placed on the ballot, it requires 60 percent approval from voters to amend the state constitution. If the measure fails to be placed on the ballot, any signatures collected will remain valid for up to 4 years.
Abortion opponents have pushed these so-called "personhood initiatives" in several states. These measures declare that a fertilized egg is a "person" who enjoys "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of the law." They would threaten not only abortion itself, but IUDs, emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization clinics, and stem cell research. In the 2008 elections, Colorado's Amendment 48 (see PDF), failed by 73 to 27 percent. In addition to failing in Montana, petition drives for similar initiatives ultimately failed in Georgia, Oregon, and Mississippi for the 2008 elections.
Currently, similar petition drives are also underway in Colorado and Montana.
Media Resources: Sun Sentinel 9/11/09; The Oyez Project 9/25/09; Feminist Daily Newswire 9/14/09;