The group currently leading a "personhood" ballot measure petition drive in Mississippi filed a lawsuit in federal court this week seeking clarification of a law that could derail their efforts to fulfill the state petition requirements. Under current Mississippi state law, petition signatures must be both submitted and certified by circuit court clerks before the one-year deadline lapses. The deadline for the "personhood" measure is February 13, but about 4,000 more signatures are needed and the certification of the signatures could take weeks, according to the Associated Press.
Personhood Mississippi aims to redefine "personhood" in state law as beginning at the "moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." They need to gather 89,000 valid signatures (12 percent of the previous election's gubernatorial votes). The only successful petition drives in Mississippi history were in 1995 and 1999. Both of these ballot measures dealt with term limits.
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." The laws 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, 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, petition drives and legal cases for so-called "personhood initiatives" are also underway in Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Montana, and Nevada.
Media Resources: Associated Press 2/2/2010; Feminist Daily Newswire 1/8/2010