By Cheryl Wetzstein-The Washington Times
The Nov. 8 defeat of the â€œpersonhoodâ€ amendment in Mississippi is galvanizing supporters to have a do-over in the state and also push measures in Colorado, Virginia and at least eight other states, say leaders of the anti-abortion movement.
â€œI can tell you that we are going to press forward. â€¦ Weâ€™ve got plans to continue a massive grass-roots campaign,â€ as well as work with the legislature, saidÂ Les Riley, leader ofÂ Personhood Mississippi.
â€œWe realize we are changing a culture, and we canâ€™t expect to change the culture with one election. Thatâ€™s why we are willing to do this as many times as it takes,â€ saidÂ Jennifer Mason, spokeswoman forÂ Personhood USA, which supports coast-to-coast measures seeking to establish human rights at conception.
Petition drives for personhood measures are taking shape or are under way in California, Colorado, Florida, Montana, Nevada, Ohio and Oregon. In addition, lawmakers in Wisconsin and Virginia have introduced personhood legislation, while lawmakers in Georgia have announced plans to do so.
Those amendments will likely face fierce opposition from pro-choice groups â€” and some pro-life groups.
â€œRight-wing extremists intend to put so-called â€˜personhoodâ€™ amendments on as many state ballots as they can,â€ theÂ National Organization for WomenÂ said in a recent year-end fundraising appeal to supporters.
â€œEnactment of the so-called â€˜Personhoodâ€™ Amendment to the Wisconsin state constitution is a threat to the protection of Wisconsin unborn children,â€ Wisconsin Right to Life said after a group of lawmakers introduced a personhood bill last month.
To many pro-life leaders, however, personhood is the battleground of the 21st century.
Emerging issues such as cloning, embryo experimentation and euthanasia necessitate ensuring the right to life for human beings, â€œwomb to tomb,â€ say personhood supporters such as Georgia Right to Life PresidentÂ Daniel Becker.
â€œThe pro-life movement must mature beyond the singular goal of â€˜saving babiesâ€™ and engage our current â€˜culture of death,â€™ â€Â Mr. BeckerÂ wrote in his book on personhood this year. â€œPersonhood is the means.â€
The stunning defeat of Mississippiâ€™s Amendment 26 â€” 58 percent of voters rejected it although it was expected to pass handily in the strongly pro-life state â€” revealed numerous campaign weaknesses.
Personhood Mississippi polled about 10,000 people after the vote,Â Mr. RileyÂ said. Surprisingly, the biggest reason people voted â€œnoâ€ on personhood was fear that it would prevent infertile couples from using in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a baby. Another big fear was that a personhood amendment would prevent pregnant women from getting lifesaving medical treatment.
Those and other fears were advanced by media campaigns, billboards and materials distributed by opponents of Amendment 26 â€” Mississippians for Healthy Families collected more than $1 million, mostly from Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its chapters, to defeat the amendment.
After the vote, though, a lot of people felt they were deceived,Â Mr. RileyÂ said. Many have called to say they regret voting no and say, â€œI want to help you next time,â€he said.
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