Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced Thursday that sponsors of an initiative defining a person “from the point of fertilization cloning or equivalent” had gained enough signatures to have the issue placed on the November 2011 general election ballot.
“We are trying to define in the law when life begins,” said Les Riley of Pontotoc, the initiative sponsor and a farm implement salesman. “We are trying to acknowledge what God has told us and what science has confirmed.”
The proposal, Riley said, “would acknowledge abortion is murder.”
The personhood initiative is the second that will appear on the 2011 ballot. Hosemann confirmed earlier this year that an initiative requiring people to display a photo identification in order to vote also would be on the ballot.
Sponsors also are working to gather enough signatures to place a proposal prohibiting the government from taking private land for the use of another private entity on the ballot.
To bypass the Legislature and have an issue placed on the ballot, sponsors must gather a total number of signatures representing 12 percent of the voters in the last gubernatorial election, or 89,285.
One-fifth of the required number of signatures must come from the five congressional districts as they existed in 1990.
Hosemann said the personhood sponsors pick up the signatures of 106,325 registered voters.
Riley said the effort began in Northeast Mississippi with about five families. But they soon had 1,000 churches across the state and about 2,000 individuals involved in the effort.
Riley and Phillip Morris of New Albany, who worked with him early in the initiative effort, were on hand at the state Capitol when Hosemann announced they had gathered enough signatures.
Riley said his goal is to ensure that life at conception has the same rights as all people.
Hosemann said a similar personhood proposal was defeated earlier in Colorado, but will be on the ballot there again this year. In all, 13 states are considering similar personhood proposals.
It is not clear how the proposal would correspond with federal law, which makes abortion legal.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or email@example.com.