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‘Life at conception’ amendment fails in Mississippi

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Summary of story from BBCNews, November 9, 2011

Residents in the state of Mississippi have rejected a planned constitutional modification that would define a fertilized human egg as a person.

The initiative would have defined life as starting at conception, and outlawed abortion, even in cases of rape or incest, as well as many forms of birth control had it been passed.

More than 55 percent of voters dismissed the so-called personhood initiative.

Even if amendment 26 had passed, it would have faced legal challenges, as it contradicts the right to abortion established by the Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling of 1973.

Nonetheless, the amendment had received significant backing – more than 100,000 signatures from registered voters had been collected.

A poll taken before the vote found that 45 percent of voters in Mississippi backed the measure, 44 percent were against and 11 percent of voters were undecided.

Voters were asked: “Should the term ‘person’ be defined to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof?”

Critics warn of major legal repercussions if an embryo was granted equal rights to its mother.

‘Personhood campaigners’ also hope to put the question to voters in the US states of Ohio, Florida, and South Dakota in 2012, however similar measures were rejected twice, by wide margins, in Colorado in 2008 and 2010.

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