‘Personhood’ campaign planning next steps

In one of the week’s key highlights, voters in Mississippi soundly rejected a proposed “Personhood” amendment that would have banned abortions, birth control, in-vitro fertilization, stem-cell research, and treatment of ectopic pregnancies. To the surprise of nearly everyone, the results weren’t even close — opponents of the right-wing effort won 58% of the vote.

But those who thought the lopsided outcome in one of the nation’s most far-right states would dissuade related “Personhood” efforts were, alas, mistaken.

In Montana, Nevada and Florida, anti-abortion rights activists are still trying to get their measures on the 2012 ballot. In all three states, activists told their local newspapers they weren’t deterred by the Mississippi loss.

Florida activists will try to gather the 676,000 signatures they need to get an amendment on the ballot in 2014, but they’re woefully short; they have just 20,000 signatures so far. Montana activists need 48,674 signatures to get on the ballot in 2012, and Nevada’s anti-abortion group will begin collecting the 72,352 signatures they need by June 19 after a December court hearing on the language of the proposed amendment.

As of yesterday, a fourth “Personhood” measure was in the works in Alabama.

The prospect of one of these amendments actually passing is rather scary, though if proponents couldn’t get near a majority in Mississippi, in an off-year election cycle in which the Republican gubernatorial candidate — who supported the measure — cruised to an easy victory, then chances are, it’s going to fail just about everywhere.

But looking over the list of states where anti-abortion rights activists still hope to get this on the ballot, I can’t help but wonder if some Democrats might actually hope they succeed. After all, Montana, Nevada, and Florida will all hold key U.S. Senate races next year, and two of the three will be battleground states for the presidential race. I would imagine plenty of Democratic leaders would be delighted to give center-left voters some added incentive to show up at the polls on Election Day 2012.

If “Personhood” campaigns start collecting a lot more signatures all of sudden, don’t be too surprised if some of those petitions are filled with folks on the other side of the issue.