In an exciting and important victory for women’s rights advocates, Mississippi voters defeated the Personhood Amendment. While the state went Republican and voted for many candidates who supported Initiative 26, a state constitutional personhood amendment that would have given full rights to fertilized eggs, women’s rights supporters successfully defeated this dangerous initiative 58% to 42% with 96 percent of precincts reporting.

The Feminist Majority Foundation Campus Choices organizers were on the ground in Mississippi working with hundreds of Mississippians on college campuses, the statewide coalition against Initiative 26, Mississippians for Healthy Families, and the only remaining clinic providing abortion services, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The Feminist Majority Foundation had a national campus organizing team, on-the-ground student organizers and scores of volunteers who organized thousands of students on the major campuses.  Its signs and stickers, which read “Vote NO on 26, Save Women’s Lives” were also featured in major news outlets, including the <i>New York Times</i> and the <i>Mississippi Clarion Ledger</i>

A tremendous number of young people, in particular young women, as well as African Americans and even Republicans, went to the polls to defeat the dangerous initiative. Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal stated, “Although starting from behind, as soon as the public learned of harmful impact, we soared in the polls probably picking up more than 40% of the vote in the last two weeks.”

If passed, Initiative 26, which proposed to give constitutional rights to a fertilized egg, would have banned emergency contraception, birth control pills, and IUDs as well as all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman or girl. The Personhood Amendment would have even gone so far as to eliminate medical choices for women, including some cancer treatments, in vitro fertilization, and could allow the state to investigate and even prosecute a woman for a miscarriage.

Anti-abortion and anti-birth control extremists have indicated that they intend to put a similar measure on
six state ballots in 2012.  So far, reproductive rights supporters have defeated anti-choice state ballot measures in South Dakota, Colorado, and California in 2006 and 2008; in Colorado in 2010, and now Mississippi in 2011.

Feminist Majority Foundation 11/9/11; Clarion Ledger 11/9/11; New York Times 11/9/11; WAPT 11/8/11