Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock approved a proposed ballot measure that aims to constitutionally define fertilized eggs as people in the state. A similar initiative failed to qualify for the state’s ballot last year because not even half of the required signatures were gathered. More than 48,000 valid signatures must be gathered for the measure to be included on the November ballot.
If enacted, the current measure would amend “the due process section of the Montana Constitution to define “person” as used in that section to include every human being regardless of age, health, function, physical or mental dependency, or method of reproduction, from the beginning of the biological development of that human being” and also “directs the legislature to implement this definition of person by appropriate legislation.”
Abortion opponents have pushed these so-called “personhood initiatives” in several states. These measures declare that a fertilized egg is a “person”” who enjoys “inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of the law.” They would threaten not only abortion itself, but IUDs, emergency contraception, in vitro fertilization clinics, and stem cell research. In the 2008 elections, Colorado’s Amendment 48 (see PDF), failed by 73 to 27 percent. In addition to failing in Montana, petition drives for similar initiatives ultimately failed in Georgia, Oregon, and Mississippi for the 2008 elections.