Personhood amendment makes headway in Arkansas
LITTLE ROCK, November 7, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The national movement to constitutionally define an unborn baby as a person is now gaining traction in Arkansas, and may appear on the November 2012 ballot.
Preston Dunn, Jr., Founder and President of Personhood Arkansas, told LifeSiteNews in an interview that the group was preparing to submit language for the proposed amendment to the state’s Attorney General office.
The actual wording is still tentative, he said, but the amendment will effectively define personhood as beginning at the moment of conception. “At every stage of biological development you are considered a person,” Dunn explained.
The language would outlaw all forms of surgical and chemical abortion, but would leave untouched contraceptives that act only to prevent conception.
Any contraception that “kills what is in a stage of biological development” would not be permitted by the amendment, Dunn said. However, if the contraceptive works “to prevent something from beginning its biological development, then that’s not an issue with the personhood amendment.”
Once the language is formalized and approved, the group will launch an effort to collect the 78,133 signatures required for the amendment to appear on the 2012 ballot.
Dunn says they will work by congressional districts, recruiting district directors from around Arkansas to lead the local effort. One district director and a state director have already joined. They are relying on grassroots efforts, and have no plans to hire paid canvassers, a common practice for ballot initiatives.
Dunn said that voting against the amendment would effectively be to choose “convenience” over human life. “I’m standing here alive able to make that decision only because someone made the right decision about me,” he said.
For the next 24 hours, however, Dunn’s efforts are focused on spreading the pro-personhood message in his neighboring state of Mississippi, where voters will decide the fate of a personhood amendment at the polls tomorrow.
According to Dunn, Mississippi is poised to become the first in the nation to pass such an initiative, potentially setting the stage for success in Arkansas and elsewhere.
As for public sentiment in Arkansas, Dunn says it is hard to gauge at this early stage, but he is hopeful about the amendment’s chance of passing.
“When it comes to social issues in Arkansas, we’re very conservative, so I think that we have a fair chance,” he said.
He added that pro-life activists in the area are bracing for the court challenge that’s likely to come from the pro-abortion lobby if the Mississippi initiative passes. The outcome of that case will set the precedent for future state personhood amendments.
“As soon as this passes in Mississippi I’m sure it will be challenged in the court systems and then we’ll see if the will of the people will be upheld or if they’re going to get slapped in the face,” Dunn commented. “[The Supreme Court] should have been held accountable back in 1973 and we just didn’t do it, and look at the carnage it’s caused since. This issue should be left up to the people of the United States.”
To sign the Arkansas personhood petition click here.