A measure to declare fertilized eggs “persons” with full constitutional rights met its makers in Ohio today after failing to receive enough signatures from Ohio voters. The measure, which advocated for amending the state’s constitution, garnered a mere 30,000 of the estimated 385,000 signatures necessary to be placed on the statewide ballot this November.
The anti-abortion group pushing for the amendment’s passage, Personhood Ohio, had until Wednesday to gather the signatures and submit them to state officials. Personhood Ohio promises to continue soliciting signatures for 2013.
So-called “personhood” amendments and bills are intended to challenge Roe v. Wade by redefining the point at which a woman can seek an abortion. Though the amendments and bills vary from state to state, they are intended to ban all abortions—even in cases of incest or rape—and even various types of birth control methods, including emergency contraception.
Although 32 states introduced personhood initiatives in 2009 alone, backed by Personhood USA, the movement has been struggling to find a place in the mainstream. Voters have rejected personhood ballot initiatives in more traditionally conservative states, including Mississippi (whose last abortion clinic is hanging on by a thread). Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously declared a personhood ballot initiative “clearly unconstitutional.”
Numerous anti-choice state legislators are pushing for personhood bills, but without success. In Oklahoma, for example, the House Republican Caucus voted not to advance such a bill last spring, and in Virginia the state senate killed a similar personhood bill. Nonetheless, voters should remain wary of these bills and amendments, since they keep being put forth.