Anti-choice advocates in Ohio have failed to gather enough signatures to put a radical constitutional amendment that would define life as beginning at conception on the ballot this fall. The Associated Press reports that Personhood Ohio collected only a small fraction of the signatures required to add the issue to the November ballot — about 30,000 out of roughly 385,000 signatures — by yesterday’s deadline.
The resounding defeat in Ohio is just the most recent incident in a string of personhood initiative failures across the country. Since conservative lawmakers first began introducing radical personhood legislation to endow fertilized eggs with the same rights as humans, their legislation has been repeatedly struck down. Over the past two years, activists have failed to advance personhood measures in several states:
— NEVADA: Last month, Personhood Nevada organizers failed to collect enough signatures to get their proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot. A similar anti-choice measure was denied by the state’s courts two years ago.
— OKLAHOMA: Although the state Senate passed a personhood bill 34-8 in February, the Oklahoma House failed to bring it up for a vote in April, effectively killing the bill for this session. That same month, Oklahoma’s Supreme Court also struck down a proposed personhood ballot initiative, ruling that the measure was “clearly unconstitutional.”
— VIRGINIA: In February, the Virginia Senate sent a personhood bill back to committee rather than bringing it up for a vote, effectively killing the bill for the 2012 legislative session. The Senate voted 24-14 to carry the bill over until next year, when its sponsor can choose to bring it up again for additional consideration.
— FLORIDA: Since Personhood Florida collected only around 20,000 of the 676,811 signatures needed to put a personhood amendment on the state ballot in 2012, they were forced to drop their petition last December. The group vowed to try again for the 2014 ballot, but have only collected ten percent of the required signatures so far.
— MISSISSIPPI: In one of the first and arguably most stunning defeats for the personhood movement, Mississippi voters rejected a personhood bill with a 58 percent majority. Mississippi is regarded as one of the most anti-choice states in the nation, and the ballot initiative’s defeat served as a stark reminder of the personhood movement’s extreme radicalism.
Although some personhood initiatives remain undecided — bills in Alabama and Iowa stalled in committee — not a single piece of this type of radical anti-choice legislation has passed at this point. Personhood activists insist that their movement is growing stronger, but the evidence in states across the country doesn’t back up the claim.