(CBS/AP) JACKSON, Miss. - Mississippi voters Tuesday defeated a ballot initiative that would've declared life begins at fertilization, a proposal that supporters sought in the Bible Belt state as a way to prompt a legal challenge to abortion rights nationwide.
The so-called "personhood" initiative was rejected by more than 55 percent of voters, falling far short of the threshold needed for it to be enacted. If it had passed, it was virtually assured of drawing legal challenges because it conflicts with the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion. Supporters of the initiative wanted to provoke a lawsuit to challenge the landmark ruling.
Opponents said the measure would have made birth control, such as the morning-after pill or the intrauterine device, illegal. More specifically, the ballot measure called for abortion to be prohibited "from the moment of fertilization" — wording that opponents suggested would have deterred physicians from performing in vitro fertilization because they would fear criminal charges if an embryo doesn't survive.
Supporters were trying to impose their religious beliefs on others by forcing women to carry unwanted pregnancies, including those caused by rape or incest, opponents said.
Mississippi already has tough abortion regulations and only one clinic where the procedures are performed, making it a fitting venue for a national movement to get abortion bans into state constitutions.
Specifically, the proposed state constitutional amendment would've defined a person "to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof."
The state's largest Christian denomination, the Mississippi Baptist Convention, backed the proposal through its lobbying arm.
Mississippi already requires parental or judicial consent for any minor to get an abortion, mandatory in-person counseling and a 24-hour wait before any woman can terminate a pregnancy.
The Republicans had wanted to outlaw birth control for a poor woman, then
deny her an abortion if she gets pregnant, then deny the pregnant woman Medicaid
for prenatal care, then deny her food stamps to eat, and then deny her welfare
after her child is born.
If she every found a job but was laid off, the Republicans would also deny her unemployment benefits. And if she lives long enough to get old, the Republicans will deny her Social Security. If she then gets sick, they'll deny her Medicare too.
The Republicans always say they are "pro-life", but all during that poor woman's life, the Republicans denied her a chance at living.
It seems that only women who have other "means" are allowed to exist. Isn't that more like a form of Darwinism, where only the financially successful are permitted to survive?