By Sam Baker - 11/09/11 03:34 AM EST
Mississippi voters on Tuesday rejected a proposal to define fertilized eggs as people — a major setback for an aggressive anti-abortion-rights movement that has already failed elsewhere.
The so-called “personhood” initiative would have changed Mississippi law to say life begins at the “moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof.” Even some abortion-rights opponents, including Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, said the approach could jeopardize access to birth control and in vitro fertilization.
The measure was failing 42 percent to 58 percent at the time the Associated Press called the race.
Colorado voters have twice rejected a similar proposal. Supporters are trying to get personhood measures on the ballot next year in several states, including Florida.
Women’s health advocates also warned that defining embryos as people could carry unintended consequences. They asked, for example, whether state law-enforcement offices would have to investigate miscarriages as potential homicides.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America praised the vote.
"Mississippi voters rejected the so-called ‘personhood’ amendment because they understood it is government gone too far, and would have allowed government to have control over personal decisions that should be left up to a woman, her family, her doctor and her faith," the group said in a statement.