Mississippi voters rejected a ballot initiative Tuesday to declare that a human life begins at conception. The measure would have effectively banned abortions in the state and legally challenged abortion rights nationwide as it conflicts with the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortions.
Despite the state's strong anti-abortion pull, the so-called personhood initiative, which defined a fertilized egg as a person, was going down to defeat by a 57-to-43-percent margin with nearly 60 percent of the precincts reporting results, The Associated Press reported.
The initiative caused a rift between medical and religious communities in the state. Opponents warned it would make some forms of birth control illegal, prevent physicians from performing in vitro fertilization for fear of criminal charges and even deter doctors from providing pregnant cancer patients with chemotherapy.
The state's outgoing Republican governor, Haley Barbour, said last week that the ambiguity of the wording is striking a lot of pro-life people here as concerning, reported the Chicago Tribune.
The initiative was pushed by a Colorado-based group, Personhood USA. Keith Mason, the group's founder, said he would keep up the fight in Mississippi either through legislation or another ballot initiative, reported the AP.
The group is also trying to put referendums on 2012 ballots in Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada and California. Mason also said that the group plans to pursue life-at-fertilization legislation in 2012 in Alabama, Wisconsin and Michigan.