Personhood Initiative Pursued in Montana

Opponents of abortion are working to include a personhood initiative on the state’s ballot this November. The personhood initiative, known as amendment Cl-108, seeks to define life under state law as beginning at the moment of fertilization, granting fertilized eggs with the full rights and privileges of a person under the Montana state constitution. As a result, Cl-108 would not only put a woman’s right to an abortion in danger, but it could also threaten the rights to oral and emergency contraception, IUDs, in-vitro fertilization, and stem cell research.

In a post on the organization’s website, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana’s communications manager, Lindsay Love, wrote, “Voters should be skeptical of this initiative, which goes too far in meddling with the personal lives of Montanans. At a time when the government should be focused on jobs and the economy, issues like CI-108 do nothing but divert attention from the real concerns of Montanans while interfering with families’ most private decisions. Voters should be skeptical of CI-108 because it has no exception for rape or incest. In fact, it could outlaw everything from birth control to in vitro fertilization to stem cell research.”

In order to include Cl-108 on the ballot, personhood proponents need to gather 10 percent of the state’s voters’ signatures, or approximately 48,674 signatures. Of these signatures, 40 of the 100 districts in the state must be represented with at least 10 percent of voters from each of the districts signing. Personhood initiatives have failed in other states, most recently in Oklahoma, Virginia, and Mississippi. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America (PDF), 14 state legislatures introduced 26 personhood measures in 2011.

Planned Parenthood Women are Watching 6/5/12; NARAL Pro-Choice America 3/9/12; Ravalli Republic 9/9/11

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