Planned Parenthood loses bid to stop Mississippi pro-life personhood amendment
JACKSON, MS, September 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by Planned Parenthood to keep a “Personhood Amendment” off the November 2011 general election ballot.
Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment 26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word “person” or “persons” to “include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.”
“With the first two hurdles overcome, only the third hurdle of Election Day remains for us to claim victory in our state’s personhood movement,” said Yes on 26 Executive Director Brad Prewitt. “We need Mississippi’s prolife public officials, pastors, and patriots to stand up and be counted in the days ahead as we seek to become the first state in the nation to grant civil rights to the unborn.”
The national pro-life organization Personhood USA collected more than 106,000 certified signatures in favor of putting Measure 26 on the November ballot. This was despite Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s interpretation of the law that resulted in an early cutoff date, which prevented a number of signatures from being counted.
According to Mississippi law, for an initiative measure to be placed on the ballot, a minimum of 89,285 certified signatures must be gathered, with at least 17,857 certified signatures from each of the five congressional districts as they existed in the year 2000. This required number of signatures represents 12% of the total number of votes cast for Governor in the last gubernatorial general election.
In July of 2010, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit to disallow Mississippi voters from voting on the Mississippi Personhood Amendment, claiming that it was an improper attempt to modify the Bill of Rights. The Hinds County Circuit Court and now the State Supreme Court, with a 7-2 vote of the justices, have rejected their challenge.
“Our law provides that this court cannot interfere with the legislative act of the people, just as this court cannot interfere with the attempt of the Legislature to pass a law,” Associate Justice Randy Pierce said in the majority opinion.
Associate Justices James Kitchens and Leslie King said in their dissent that the measure is an attempt to add “a new section” to the Mississippi Bill of Rights, not possible through a ballot measure.
An ACLU representative called Measure 26 “extreme.”
“This initiative is extreme and could severely undermine women’s access to birth control, in-vitro fertilization and life-saving medical procedures,” said ACLU of Mississippi legal director Bear Atwood.
A Colorado initiative that would have given personhood status in the state constitution to all human beings “from the beginning of biological development” made it onto the state ballot but failed the popular vote in 2008 and in 2010.