A campaign was launched Friday in Florida to put a constitutional amendment on the state’s 2010 ballot that would legally define fertilized embryos as people. According to the Associated Press, the proposed amendment would define a “person” as existing starting at “the beginning of biological development” and seeks to ban some forms of contraception and abortion in all cases including in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of maternal health.
According to the Sun Sentinel, Personhood Florida and the American Life League filed the amendment with the Florida Secretary of State Friday and the exact ballot language has not yet been approved. In order to be certified for the 2010 ballot, supporters of the measure must gather over 675,000 valid signatures. If the measure is placed on the ballot, it requires 60 percent approval from voters to amend the state constitution.
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.
Currently, similar petition drives are also underway in Colorado and Montana.