'Personhood' issue goes to the polls

Nov. 4, 2011 at 6:35 PM

JACKSON, Miss., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- A grassroots anti-abortion movement gaining traction in Mississippi will have voters decide whether a fertilized egg is a person and its destruction is murder.

Voters Tuesday will decide the nation's first so-called personhood amendment, criminalizing abortion and limiting in-vitro fertilization and some forms of birth control, The Washington Post reported Friday.

"They've just taken an incremental approach," said Les Riley, founder of Personhood Mississippi, who initiated the state's effort. "We're just going to the heart of the matter, which is, 'Is this a person or not? God says it is, and science has confirmed it.'"

Colorado's life-at-conception ballot initiative failed last year but proponents say they are confident of a Mississippi victory, a Bible Belt state where there is only one abortion clinic due to strict laws governing the procedure, the Post said.

Many "personhood" advocates, usually men, oppose abortion even in cases of incest and rape.

Opponents of the measure, including Planned Parenthood, say it is an infringement on women's health and an example of government overreach.

"A lot of people think this is just about abortion, but it's not about abortion," said Valencia Robinson, an abortion rights and HIV activist in Jackson. "It's bad for women's health, it's bad for our economy, and my strongest point is, it's just government intrusion in our personal lives."

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