Mississippi would have become the first state to define a fertilized egg as a person, a measure which was aimed at outlawing abortion in the state but, opponents contended, would have led to all kinds of unintended consequences.
In the end, those concerns won out in a strongly anti-abortion state. The amendment trailed 59 percent to 41 percent with more than half of precincts reporting. The Associated Press has said it will fail.
Had the measure passed, many thought it would have led to a new natiowide dialogue on abortion.
The measure earned the support of both Republicans and Democrats in Mississippi — including both of the major parties’ nominees for governor — but some of them hesitated to support it, including outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour (R).
Opponents say that measure could have criminalized birth control, affected in vitro fertilization practices and even forced doctors to decline to provide pregnant cancer patients with chemotherapy for fear of legal repercussions.
“Personhood” supporters had tried to pass a similar measure in Colorado in 2008 and 2010, but voters in that state rejected it more than two-to-one both times.
The “personhood” movement is a more aggressive maneuver than many anti-abortion advocates prefer.