With 64 percent of precincts reporting, 57 percent of the votes opposed Initiative 26, WLOX-TV, Biloxi, reported. Only 43 percent supported it.
The initiative would have amended the state constitution to declare the "personhood" of fetuses. But as long as the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision stands, the initiative would not have banned abortion in Mississippi.
Support for the initiative fell as the election approached, The Christian Science Monitor reported. The newspaper cited Gov. Haley Barbour's concerns about it and a campaign by groups like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Doctors suggested the initiative could put medical decisions in the hands of the courts. Marty Wiseman, a Mississippi State University political science expert, said he had been seeing a shift among women.
"I've been going to a lot of political forums and chatting with older, conservative women, who, almost to a person, have said, 'Two or three weeks ago, I was absolutely going to vote for it. I agreed in church to vote for it, but with what I've seen the medical community saying, I've become concerned,'" Wiseman told the Monitor.