By Laura Tillman/The Associated Press
JACKSON — Mississippi groups that oppose abortion said Thursday they want voters to again cast ballots on a state constitutional amendment to define life as beginning at conception.
The so-called “personhood amendment” was defeated by a wide margin when it appeared on the November 2011 ballot. Similar amendments died in the legislature this session.
Groups including Pro-Life Mississippi, Personhood Mississippi and the Pro Life America Network plan to collect signatures in hopes of putting the amendment on the 2013 ballot.
About two dozen women and children surrounded by 25 empty strollers rallied at the Capitol. They vowed to again go through the complex process of bringing the amendment to a popular vote. They said the new initiative would include language to address concerns of voters who opposed the bill last year, including fears that the amendment would ban in vitro fertilization.
The groups also said they have hired conservative law firm Liberty Counsel to assist in drafting the new bill.
Among the handful of spectators at the news conference was Atlee Breland, whose group Parents Against Personhood opposes the bill. The amendment would outlaw certain in vitro fertilization procedures, Breland said.
“I’m a mother through in vitro and fertility treatments,” she said. “I understand what personhood would do to prevent women like me from having children.”
Breland shook her head as speakers at the news conference accused anti-Personhood groups of spreading “lies” about how the measure would affect accessibility to IVF treatments. However Liberty Counsel Attorney Steve Crampton said certain fertility procedures would indeed become illegal if it passes.
Jennifer Ogle of Pro-Life Mississippi said she too had problems with fertility but supports the amendment.
“I support life and I know there are procedures with in vitro that I do not stand behind,” Ogle said.